Australia cricket icon Shane Warne dies aged 52

"Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived," a statement read.
Australia cricket icon Shane Warne dies aged 52

Agency Report

Australia cricket great Shane Warne, widely regarded as one of the best Test players of all time, has died of a suspected heart attack aged 52.

Warne -- a larger-than-life character whose tally of 708 Test wickets has only been surpassed by his rival and fellow spinner Muttiah Muralitharan -- could not be revived after being found unresponsive in his Thailand villa.

"It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4 March," said a statement from his mangement company.

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

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

The announcement came just hours after the death was announced of fellow Australian great Rod Marsh, one of cricket's outstanding wicketkeepers.

Warne, credited with reviving the art of leg-spin, was part of a dominant Australian Test team and helped his country win the 1999 World Cup.

Named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, alongside Donald Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards, Warne's impact was enormous.

The bowler became as well known for a colourful life away from cricket as he was for his exploits on the field.

Both he and Australia team-mate Mark Waugh were fined for accepting money from a bookmaker and Warne was suspended for 12 months after failing a drugs test on the eve of the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, having taken a diuretic.

The first bowler to take 700 Test wickets with an assortment of leg-breaks, googlies, flippers and his own "zooters", Warne retired from Australia duty following a 5-0 series win at home to arch-rivals England during the 2006/07 Ashes,

In addition to his international exploits, Warne also enjoyed a successful career with his Australian state side Victoria.

And while his private life effectively ruled him out of captaining Australia, for all his acknowledged tactical acumen, Warne did skipper English county Hampshire, where he helped nurture gifted England batsman Kevin Pietersen.

- 'An honour to know you' -

Warne continued to star on the Twenty20 franchise circuit, starring for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League and his home town Melbourne Stars in Australia's Big Bash League before retiring from playing altogether.

He subsequently became a highly regarded television commentator and pundit, renowned for his forthright opinions, who also did some team coaching and worked individually with current-day leg-spinners.

Warne was divorced from wife Simone, with whom he had three children. He also had high-profile relationship with British actress Liz Hurley.

Australia opener David Warner tweeted: "Two legends (Marsh and Warne) of our game have left us too soon. I'm lost for words, and this is extremely sad. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Marsh and Warne family. I just cannot believe it. #rip, you will both be missed."

Former India captain Virat Kohli hailed Warne as the "greatest".

"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 of all time). Greatest to turn the cricket ball," Kohli tweeted.

Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene tweeted: "One of the greatest in our generation!!

"Shocked and sad to hear the news. RIP Shane"

England all-rounder Ben Stokes, coached by Warne in the IPL, wrote on Instagram: "Australian Legend. @rajasthanroyals Legend. Was an honour to know you and work with you. This man is a LEGEND."

The England team are currently in the Caribbean, preparing for a three-Test series against the West Indies.

Ahead of the final day of their warm-up against a Cricket West Indies President's XI, the players and umpires stood in the middle for a minute's silence in honour of Warne.

AFP

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