MELBOURNE, TGO: The final send-off for sporting great Shane Warne could be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the venue where the native Victorian took his 700th Test wicket. Details for Warne’s state funeral are yet to be finalised, but Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday confirmed the family had accepted the offer. A crowd of 100,000 could fill the MCG to see off the King of Spin, who died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand aged just 52 on Friday.
Tributes to Warne are already piling up at the iconic ground, with fans leaving behind tins of VB, baked beans and even cigarettes, alongside more traditional offerings such as handwritten notes and flowers. Warne’s body is a step closer to being repatriated to Australia, after it was transported to the Thai mainland for an autopsy. His death is not being treated as suspicious, but the autopsy is part of the standard post-mortem process.
Warne’s family will be able to bring his body home after the autopsy, though the results are not expected for some time. Sydney Morning Herald South-East Asia correspondent Chris Barrett said the government had been working to fast-track the process of repatriation. “There is going to be issues with customs, I guess, and all of those other sort of procedural issues that take place when these sort of things happen,” he told Today.
“But I think it’s probably safe to say that that will be reasonably fast-tracked in this case.”
Barrett said Warne’s death had not originally been major news in Thailand, but that word of his international stature had begun to spread. “They have realised that what a loved and famous character he was in Australia and in many other places around the world and it’s been quite big news in the days since then,” he said.
World pays tribute to legend
The Prime Minister said Australia had lost one of its greatest cricket players.
“We have lost one of Australia’s greatest cricketers,” Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“We are bewildered by this sad and sudden loss.
Mr Andrews also announced the MCG’s largest grandstand — the 45,000-seat Great Southern Stand — will be permanently renamed in Warne’s honour.
“The Government will rename the Great Southern Stand at the MCG — the place he took his hat-trick and 700th wicket to honour Shane and his contribution to the game,” Mr Andrews said on Twitter.
“The S.K. Warne Stand will be a permanent tribute to an amazing Victorian.”
Former prime minister John Howard also paid tribute to Warne, while wearing a Cricket Australia polo.
“You could work out why he was such a good bowler when you listen to his commentary because he knows the intricacies of the game and all great players are like that,” he said.
His former fiancee, actress Elizabeth Hurley, posted a photo tribute of their love story.
“I feel like the sun has gone behind a cloud forever,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Rest in peace my beloved Lionheart.”
Tributes also came in from across the world, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, and British comedian and actor Stephen Fry just some of the notable overseas names to react to Warne’s death.
One of the greatest bowlers of all time, and arguably Australia’s finest cricketer behind only Sir Donald Bradman, Warne finished his career with 1001 international wickets.