The sudden demise of Australian bowling great Shane Warne at the age of 52 of a heart attack in Thailand on Friday, has taken away one of the greatest and colourful cricket celebrities. Warne has left a lasting impact as the greatest of spin bowling exponents the world has produced along with Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan. We are reminded of the race to the highest Test wicket taker record. But both confèssed they never thought of records. Muralitharan ran prevailed, but Warne was gracious to be among the first to congratulate Muralitharan by a telephone call.
Fondly reffered to as Warnie by the cricket fraternity, Warne was the unrelenting warrior with the ball on the cricket field. Off it, he was large hearted and compassionate with a caring heart for others.
This was best manièsted when Warne, responded to a call for help from Muralitharan and flew down to Sri Lanka in the wake of the Tsunami devastation and toured ravaged areas contributing generously to famalies affected by the tsunami. He was particularly moved by the ruination of the Galle Stadium and swiftly made a handsome donation for its refurbishment which Muralidaran greatfully referred to in paying tribute to Warne on Saturday on hearing of his passing away.
Warne will be remembered for his wizadry with the ball in championing Australia as a world beating team in a 145-test career that fetched 708 wickets and 293 ODI wickets in a in a 15-year career from 1992 to 2007. He revelled in bowling Australia to an improbable victory over Sri Lanka in a test match in 1992 at the SSC.
Sri Lanka, had dominated the match for a good part scoring 500 in the first innings with Romesh Kaluvitharana plundering a century but collapsed before Warne’s spin chasing 171.
Warne was the superstar celebrity who hogged the public limelightfor his outgoing personality who called a spade a spade with an endearing sporting chuckle and grin.