Australian cricket legend Shane Warne is being remembered by family, friends, international celebrities and the nation’s political elite at a state memorial in Melbourne.
A large crowd flocked to the MCG for Wednesday’s service after the spin king’s death, at age 52, from a suspected heart attack in Thailand earlier this month.
Music legend Elton John performed a pre-recorded version of Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and described Warne as one of the most amazing Australian cricketers of all time.
“It’s a sad day today but it’s not in some ways because his legacy lives on and he will live on through future generations,” the singer said.
“He was mesmerising, brilliant and loved to play cricket, and loved life.”
Australian actor Hugh Jackman also provided a pre-recorded tribute, saying Warne made the most of every second in his 52 years.
“Man, he sucked the marrow out of life,” he said.
“He was a great teammate. He loved the game of cricket. He loved his friends and family. He loved life. There was no one like you, Warnie and never will be again. We will miss you.”
In a touching speech, Keith Warne described his son’s death on March 4 as the “darkest day in our family’s life”.
“Mate, your mother and I can’t imagine a life without you. You have been taken too soon and our hearts are broken,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was jeered when introduced by host Eddie McGuire, while Premier Daniel Andrews is not in attendance after contracting COVID-19.
Others at the MCG, the site of some of Warne’s greatest achievements, include former Australian Test captain Allan Border, ex-English skipper Nasser Hussain and West Indian great Brian Lara.
Warne’s children will later unveil a stand named in his honour.
(Australian Associated Press)
One of Shane Warne’s former foes Nasser Hussain has described the legendary legspinner as the greatest cricketer who ever lived.
More than 50,000 people are inside the MCG to farewell the Australian icon, who died suddenly aged 52 in Thailand on March 4.
Former Australian teammates and rivals are paying tribute to Warne at Melbourne’s famous stadium in a state memorial service.
Ex-England captain Hussain, who Warne tormented during his 145-Test career, was blown away by his feats on the field.
Warne finished his career in 2007 with 708 Test wickets and was named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the 20th century alongside Don Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards.
“The greatest cricketer who has ever played the game,” Hussain told Fox Sports before the service began.
“Unbelievable cricketer and bloke.”
In a panel discussion with former Australian stars Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Merv Hughes, and West Indies legend Brian Lara, Hussain told a story about Warne getting him out in a tri-series final in 1999.
“I sledged him for some apparent reason and I’ve said something ‘like enjoy your last game as captain’,” Hussain said.
“I’ll be surprised if you haven’t got the footage of me running down the pitch, very next delivery after that slog sweep and getting stumped.
“It was a privilege to be on a cricket field with you – you were the greatest bowler I ever saw.”
Lara called Warne the “greatest Australian that I know”.
Hughes recounted a story of Warne memorably honouring a promise for a kindergarten auction and praised his generosity.
“A very loyal friend, and as good as he was in the cricket field, he was five times better off it.
“Very loyal, and if he said he was going to do something, he would deliver.”
Despite Warne and Steve Waugh famously falling out, the former Australian captain was seated at the memorial service alongside Adam Gilchrist.
Brett Lee, who played with Warne during a golden era for Australia, said there would never be anyone like him.
But Warne’s sporting interests were not just confined to cricket, with AFL club St Kilda one of his great passions.
Retired Saints champion Nick Riewoldt was one of Warne’s all-time favourite AFL players.
Riewoldt could not believe one of Australia’s greatest sportspeople worshipped him.
“He was just a massive fan and enormous mentor to all St Kilda people.”
The Great Southern Stand at the MCG will formally be unveiled as the Shane Warne Stand during the service
(Australian Associated Press)