A shattered former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has choked back tears after revealing one of his biggest regrets following the tragic death of former teammate and close friend, Shane Warne.
Tributes to the Aussie cricket legend have been streaming in from all over the world since the shocking news broke of his sudden death in Thailand on Friday evening.
'NO MORE CRYING': Michael Clarke breaks down in Shane Warne tribute
'NOT THE RIGHT TIME': Legend apologises for Shane Warne comment
'SHATTERED': How Shane Warne's family reacted to tragic death
Ponting - who played alongside Warne in the majority of the Spin King's 145 Tests for Australia - was also extremely close with the 52-year-old, who Thai police revealed died from natural causes at a villa in Koh Samui.
Speaking with former England player and Fox Cricket commentator Isa Guha on the ICC Podcast, Ponting admitted he's still struggling to come to terms with Warne's death.
“I’ve had the television on this morning watching a lot of the tributes to him, but any time I hear his voice, I have to turn it off," Ponting said.
The former Aussie captain struggled to hold it together when Gua asked what Ponting would say to Warne now if he had the chance.
“As I’ve said to a lot of the guys I’ve been talking to over the last couple of days, just how much I love him,” Ponting said as tears welled up in his eyes.
“I didn’t say that, but I wish I did.”
Ponting, who knew Warne as a teammate and friend for 32 years, also delivered a stirring tribute to his friend on 7News on Monday.
“I was shocked I think like probably the rest of the world,” he said.
“I’ve had a few hours now to digest it all and think about how big a part of my life he was and reflect on a lot of those memories through the years.
“Because he knew and touched so many people you can understand that the outpouring of emotion started amongst us.
"Like most, I’ve been trying to stay away from them (text messages) a little bit because I find it a little bit hard to get on the phone to some of the boys. It’s a pretty hard time.”
A real outpour of emotions from Ricky Ponting at the death of former team-mate #ShaneWarne.
The tears are understandable. There's still a sense of numbness over a tragedy which has united cricket lovers from all across the globe in grief and sorrow. What a champion he was! pic.twitter.com/Z7FaB2JByE
— Rawal Afzal Azaad (@R_A_Azaad) March 7, 2022
Ricky Ponting reflects on enormous Shane Warne legacy
Ponting had a hard time getting words out when asked about how he would remember Warne.
The former skipper said it was the way Warne, through his sheer force of personality, fashioned himself almost into a brand unto itself, while maintaining his unparalleled skill as a leg spin bowler.
“Every young kid in the country wanted to be Shane Warne and wanted to bowl leg spin,” he said.
“It was the marketability side of it as well. He signed that first deal with Nike and you saw him with Michael Jordan while I was sitting back in awe at what Shane was turning himself into,” he said.
“He’ll be remembered as one of the all-time greats, but for a generation, every young kid wanted to be Shane Warne and wanted to bowl leg spin.
“He is going to down as one of the all-time greats of the game if not the greatest."
Ponting - who played 12 years alongside Warne in a side regarded as the greatest Australian Test side in history - said the leg-spinner's impact on the sport extended far beyond what he achieved on the pitch.
“When we were travelling the world or when we were travelling around Australia, the Australian cricket team would do coaching clinic’s whenever we could,” Ponting said.
“When Shane was there, every kid at that coaching clinic wanted to bowl leg spin. Everyone wanted to be Shane Warne. That wasn’t only in Australia – there would have been boys and girls in England wanting to be Shane Warne as well, and India and places like that. That’s the impact he had on the game.
“Just thinking of how big he was in the scheme of world sport, from signing that big Nike contract and going over and hanging out with Michael Jordan, that stuff doesn’t happen in cricket. He was a star, just an absolute superstar.
“Forget about what he did on the field the star power that he brought to the game, the game was always better when Warnie was a part of it. And we’re going to notice that pretty soon. People will notice that with his commentary not being there.”
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.