'Doesn't feel real': England's reaction to Shane Warne tragedy
Shane Warne spent much of his illustrious career terrorising England cricketers and their fans, with several past and present players hailing the legendary Aussie spinner as the greatest player they've ever seen.
The world has been left reeling by news of Warne's shocking and untimely death at the age of just 52.
Warne died of a suspected heart attack while on holidays at a Thailand hotel on Friday, with his management confirming he was found unresponsive and unable to be revived.
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Thai police have since told Reuters that Warne's body had been taken for an autopsy and friends who found him would be spoken with, but added there were no signs of foul play.
The legendary leg-spinner nicknamed 'The King of Spin' remains Australia's leading wicket-taker with 708 scalps and sits second on the all-time list behind Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan.
His 195 wickets in 36 Ashes Tests is also the all-time record for any Aussie bowler against England.
Current Australia Test captain Pat Cummins was among those to pay their respects to the greatest bowler in the nation's history, describing him as a "once-in-a-century type of cricketer".
Former teammate Adam Gilchrist said he felt "numb" after the hearing the shocking news, with tributes rolling in from around the world for the Aussie icon.
Despite the fierce and sometimes ill-tempered Ashes rivalry between Australia and England over the years, many of England's past and present stars have been quick to hail Warne as the greatest player they've ever seen.
Legendary former England player and coach David Lloyd summed up his thoughts about Warne with a stirring tribute about the man and the player.
“Shane was generous to a fault. He lived life to the full, he was Peter Pan, but when it came to cricket, he was serious," Lloyd said.
“He championed the game. He was serious about cricket but he wanted it to be fun. He wanted bowling to be fun, to smile at the opposition when they hit you for six.
“He had this God-given talent and he was so grateful for it that he always wanted to help other players.
“Any young spinner who came into the game at whatever level, he would go and talk to them, work with them, give them a pat on the back.
“He was an immense character, but as a player he was top of the tree. For me, he’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
One of the greatest of all-time.
A legend. A genius.
You changed Cricket.
RIP Shane Warne ❤️ pic.twitter.com/YX91zmssoT
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) March 4, 2022
Australian Legend@rajasthanroyals Legend
Was an honour to know you and work with you
This man is a LEGEND ❤️❤️#theking 😢 https://t.co/InZb4mH8fH
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) March 4, 2022
Shane Warne hailed as the greatest cricketer of his generation
Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison, who played against Warne in the famous 2005 Ashes series, also insists the Aussie was the best he's seen.
“I got to play against Warney, got to know his personality and character and know him as a friend,” Harmison told talkSPORT.
“He is the greatest cricketer I’ve ever seen. For me, he is the best cricketer of the modern generation that I’ve seen in my lifetime and possibly just before that.
“The thing about Shane was, he was such a great competitor on the field and when you did well he was so respectful of the game.
“You would see him shake people’s hands, clap when they got 50s and 100s and things like that.
“That was the man that was Shane Warne. It is so heart breaking, it really is."
Current England stars Ben Stokes and Joe Root were among the many others to offer glowing tributes to Warne, but perhaps the most beautiful of all came from Michael Vaughan.
The former England captain knew the Aussie well from their time working together as commentators, and shared a touching story about spending Christmas with Warne and his family.
"I can’t tell you how hard it is to get this down in words... it’s 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," Vaughan wrote on Instagram alongside a Christmas photo of the pair together.
"Shane was the greatest ever cricketer but more than that his character lit up every dressing room , comm box , bar , golf club & friendship group... his energy & positivity was beyond anyone I have ever known.
"He was loyal beyond loyal .. at a time I needed support he was the first to pick up the phone & over advice/help & the most utmost support... I will never ever forget the warmth he & his family gave me this winter when I was down under for Xmas alone.
"To say I spent Warney's last Xmas with him & his family is so sad but one I will cherish."
Warne played one of the most influential roles in Australia's golden era of cricket, announcing himself with the magic ball that bowled Mike Gatting in 1993 and bowing out with a 5-0 Ashes whitewash at home in 2006-07.
In between times, he bowled Australia to the 1999 World Cup, helping them back from the brink with unforgettable displays in the semi-final and final.
Such was Warne's brilliance, he took a record 96 wickets in the penultimate year of his career.
All up he finished with 1001 international wickets across all formats, earning spots in the ICC, Australian cricket and Australian sport Hall of Fame.
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