Sport Cricket ‘This can’t be true’: Tributes flow as world left shocked by Shane Warne’s death
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‘This can’t be true’: Tributes flow as world left shocked by Shane Warne’s death

Shane Warne
Former foes and teammates alike have lined up to express their sadness. Photo: Getty
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The international sporting world is in a state of shock after the news of the sudden death of cricket great Shane Warne.

As Australians woke to the sudden news, tributes flooded social media around the globe after it emerged early Saturday Australian time that the legendary legspinner had died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand while on vacation.

From teammates to opponents, and modern cricketing greats like England’s Ben Stokes to all-time legends of the game like Viv Richards, the overwhelming reaction was that Warne’s death at the age of just 52 seemed unthinkable.

The sad news came less than 24 hours after the passing of fellow Australian cricket great Rod Marsh, for whom Warne had posted a tribute.

Teammate Adam Gilchrist, who as wicketkeeper collaborated on many of Warne’s dismissals, said he was “numb”.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan described a fierce opponent on the field and a great friend off it.

“Everyone wanted to be around him, but ultimately he was just a normal guy who could do incredible things.

“It just doesn’t feel real to be talking about someone who once was an enemy on the pitch to one who became a great friend off it,” he said.

“His energy and positivity was beyond anyone I have ever known, he was loyal beyond loyal.”

West Indian legend Richards, who, like Warne, was one Wisden’s five cricketers of the century, said: “Unbelievable. I am shocked to the core. This can’t be true… There are no words to describe what I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket.”

India great Sachin Tendulkar, who alongside Brian Lara was the batsman that Warne felt was the best he’d bowled to, said simply: “Will miss you Warnie.

“There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter. You always had a special place for India & Indians had a special place for you.

“Gone too young!”

Lara himself wrote on social media: “My friend is gone!! We have lost one of the Greatest Sportsmen of all time!! RIP Warnie!! You will be missed.”

An emotional Australia captain Pat Cummins had just completed play in the first Test against Pakistan when the news broke.

“Warnie was an all-time great. A once-in-a-century type cricketer and his records will live on forever,” Cummins said.

“We all grew up watching Warnie, idolising him. We all had posters on our walls, had his earrings,” he added. “We loved so much about Warnie.”

“His showmanship, his charisma, his tactics, the way he just willed himself and the team around him to win games for Australia.

Indian batting great Virat Kohli described Warne as the “goat” — greatest of all-time — saying: “Life is so fickle and unpredictable.

“I cannot process the passing of this great of our sport and also a person I got to know off the field. RIP #goat. Greatest to turn the cricket ball.”

India’s current captain Rohit Sharma, who had been leading his team in action in a Test against Sri Lanka in Mohali, tweeted: “I’m truly lost for words here, this is extremely sad. An absolute legend and champion of our game has left us.”

Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi felt cricket “has lost what I consider a university of leg-spin bowling today.”

England allrounder Stokes wrote on Instagram that it “was an honour to know and work with” Warne.

“This man is a LEGEND,” he added.

The England men’s team, who are in the Caribbean preparing for a three-Test series against the West Indies, stood for a minute’s silence in honour of Warne before their match in Antigua.

Mike Gatting, the victim of Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’ at Old Trafford in the 1993 Ashes, called his old Ashes tormentor “the number one bowler ever” in Test history.

“There have been a lot of great cricketers, great spinners and great legspinners but Warnie will always be certainly, from my point of view, the number one,” said the former England captain.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson added his tribute to Warne, who spent much of his time in England.