Cricket legend Shane Warne dead at 52

Cricket world in shock at sudden death of one of the sport's greatest ever players after a suspected heart attack on a Thai island

Shane Warne, regarded by many as Australia's greatest-ever bowler and one of cricket's most recognisable global names, has died aged 52 after suffering a suspected heart attack while in Thailand.

On the day after another former Australian great of the game, Rod Marsh, died as the result of a heart attack he suffered last week, the news of Warne's passing was confirmed by the leg spinner's management company in the early hours of this morning.

Warne was staying on the island of Koh Samui, around 600km south of Bangkok in the Gulf of Thailand.

"It is with great sadness we advise that Shane Keith Warne passed away of a suspected heart attack in Koh Samui, Thailand today, Friday 4th March," the statement said.

"Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived.

"The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course."

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The news became public less than an hour after stumps on day one of Australia's first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi and social media platforms were immediately flooded with messages of shock and condolence from around the world.

"Warnie was an all time great, a once in a century type cricketer, and his records will live on forever," captain Pat Cummins said from Australia's team hotel in Islamabad.

"We all grew up watching Warnie, idolising him, we all had posters on his wall, had his earrings.

"What we loved so much about Warnie was his showmanship, his charisma, his tactics, the way he willed himself and the team around him to win games for Australia, and above all else his incredible skills as a leg-spinner.

"There's so many guys in this team and squad who still hold him as a hero, their all-time favourite player.

"The game was never the same after Warnie emerged and the game will never be the same after his passing.

"Rest in peace, King."

In Antigua, where England's men's team is preparing for an upcoming series with a warm-up match against a Cricket West Indies XI, both teams observed a minute's silence upon learning of Warne's death.

Warne was Australia's leading Test wicket-taker with 708 from a 15-year international career spanning 1992 to 2007, and second-most potent bowler in the game's history behind Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralidaran (800 wickets).

He played 145 Tests – only Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting (both 168) and Allan Border (156) – donned the Baggy Green Cap more often, and Warne also represented his country in 194 one-day internationals.

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He was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the 20th Century, alongside fellow Australian Sir Donald Bradman, West Indians Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Vivian Richards, and England's Sir Jack Hobbs.

But beyond his immediate on-field impact, Warne revolutionised cricket through his revival of the seemingly forgotten art of leg-spin bowling which saw him become one of world sport's most recognisable figures.

Plucked from near obscurity for a Test debut against India in January 1992, having played just four Sheffield Shield games for Victoria, Warne gave no hint of the genius about to unfurl when he finished his maiden international appearance with match figures of 1-150.

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Warne then went wicketless in his next Test at Adelaide and was dropped for the final match of that series in fast-bowler friendly Perth but won a place in Australia's squad for the subsequent tour to Sri Lanka where his nascent talent began to flower.

The then 22-year-old seemed destined for a short-lived international career when his inaugural outing on overseas soil netted 0-107 in the first innings of the opening Test in Colombo but, with the game in the balance on day five, he bowled Australia to victory in concert with fellow spinner Greg Matthews.

While Warne's contribution of 3-11 was his high point of that campaign, but the following year he began his first Ashes campaign on English soil with a delivery that was soon dubbed 'the ball of the century' and which he later admitted "changed his life".

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The fizzing leg break that spun past the edge of Mike Gatting's bat at Old Trafford announced a talent not previously seen in modern cricket, and as Warne's achievements grew so too did his celebrity.

The man who would concede his life often resembled a 'soap opera' became a magnet for headlines and scandal, but was also a cricketer with such a rare gift his on-field deeds were compelling viewing for Australia fans and supporters of rival teams alike.

After his retirement from international cricket at the completion of Australia's 2006-07 Ashes whitewash over England, Warne continued to play in T20 competitions around the world and coached Rajasthan Royals to a title in the Indian Premier League.

He played his final competitive match for Melbourne Stars in the KFC BBL in 2013, and soon became an in-demand television commentator in Australia, the UK and on the subcontinent.

In addition to pursuing post-cricket life as a professional poker player, Warne also lent his name to a charitable causes and commercial interests including gin production and clothing, plus he recently promoted a feature-length documentary on his life entitled 'Shane'.

Warne is survived by his three children Brooke, Jackson and Summer.

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