5 Mar 2022

Australian cricket great Shane Warne dies of suspected heart attack

7:05 am on 5 March 2022

Australian cricketer Shane Warne, one of the finest leg-spin bowlers of all time whose talent and personality transcended the sport, has died aged 52.

Shane Warne.
ICC Cricket World Cup FINAL. New Zealand Black Caps v England. Lord's Cricket Ground, England UK.

Shane Warne. Photo: Photosport / Andrew Cornaga

Warne, who ended his spell-binding international career in 2007 with a remarkable 708 test wickets, died from a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand, his family confirmed in a statement.

"Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived," the statement read.

"The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course."

Credited for reviving the art of leg spin, Warne made his test debut in 1992 against India and by the time he ended his 15-year international career, the spinner had established himself as one of the all-time greats of the game.

He also had 293 wickets from 194 one-dayers and won the man-of-the-match award when Australia beat Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup final.

Thai Police said Warne and three other friends were staying in a private villa and one of them went to inquire about him after the former cricketer did not turn up for dinner.

"The friend did CPR on him and called an ambulance," Chatchawin Nakmusik, an officer with of the Bo Put police on Koh Samui, told Reuters by phone.

"An emergency response unit then arrived and did another CPR for 10-20 minutes. Then an ambulance from the Thai International Hospital arrived and took him there. They did CPR for five minutes, and then he died."

They did not know the cause of death but were not treating it as suspicious, added Chatchawin.

Warne's death comes hours after another former Australian cricket great, wicket-keeper Rod Marsh died on Friday at the age of 74.

Warne's last post on Twitter, 12 hours before his death was reported, was a tribute to Marsh.

"Sad to hear the news that Rod Marsh has passed. He was a legend of our great game & an inspiration to so many young boys & girls. Rod cared deeply about cricket & gave so much-especially to Australia & England players. Sending lots & lots of love to Ros & the family."

After ending his test career, Warne played in the Indian Premier League and other Twenty20 competitions before retiring from all international cricket in 2013, but continued to be involved in the game as a broadcaster.

The ball of the century that launched Warne's career

With a single twist of his right wrist on an early summer day at Old Trafford in 1993 Shane Warne not only bamboozled England's batsman Mike Gatting with the so-called "Ball of the Century" but also revived the noble art of leg spin.

The bleached blond-haired Warne arrived on that tour of England relatively unknown outside Australia and with fairly unspectacular figures from his first 11 test matches.

All that changed in an instant on the second morning of an Ashes series in which Warne took an incredible 34 wickets in Australia's 4-1 drubbing of the hosts.

With England having made a solid start in reply to Australia's first innings 289, captain Allan Border handed the ball to Warne.

After loosening up his arm and surveying where his fielders were positioned, Warne began his ambling run-up off no more than 10 paces at almost walking pace.

The beautifully-flighted delivery initially appeared to be heading straight but began to drift through the air towards the right-handed Gatting - a vastly experienced batsman known for his expertise against spin bowling.

The ball pitched a foot outside the line of Gatting's leg stump and with the batsman thrusting his left pad forward with his bat angled down, it gripped in the dust.

It then spat and bounced back at a 45 degree angle, ripping past the edge of Gatting's bat and hitting the top of off stump.

Richie Benaud, the great Australian commentator working for the BBC, seemed as bemused as Gatting as his initial reaction was as if he had witnessed just an everyday dismissal.

"He's done it," Benaud said after a brief silence, before adding: "He's started off with the most beautiful delivery.

"Gatting has absolutely no idea of what's happened to him."

As a smiling Warne was congratulated by his team mates Gatting began the long walk off, looking back over his shoulder at his tormentor and shrugging his shoulders in resignation.

With a single, extraordinary, delivery Warne cast a spell over England and by the end of the innings he had also accounted for Robin Smith, Graham Gooch and Andy Caddick as the hosts capitulated to 210 all out.

Gooch later described Gatting's reaction as "like someone had just stolen his lunch" while in later years Gatting reflected on unwittingly becoming part of cricket folklore.

"It was one of those wonderful highlights of the game, it's one of those bits of history that belongs not only to me but to probably the best leg-spinner of all time."

Whenever asked about 'The Ball' Warne modestly insisted it was "a bit of a fluke". But he was not fooling anyone.

It was merely the opening piece of magic from a cricketing wizard who went on to take 708 test wickets - a figure only bettered by Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan - and made leg spin bowling cool again.