Australia is in a state of "complete shock" after the loss of one of its greatest ever sports stars, with Shane Warne dead at age 52.
Warne died in a Thailand hotel on Friday while on holiday of a suspected heart attack, with his management confirming he was found unresponsive and unable to be revived.
The news came less than 24 hours after the death of fellow Australia cricket legend Rod Marsh, who Warne himself had only just publicly paid tribute to.
Australia's men's Test team had just finished play on day one in Pakistan when the news broke, while the women were set to wake to it as they begin their World Cup in New Zealand on Saturday.
"Hard to fathom," a clearly emotional Pat Cummins said.
"Warnie was an all-time great. A once-in-a-century type cricketer and his records will live on forever
"We all grew up watching Warnie, idolising him. We all had posters on our walls, had his earings.
"We loved so much about Warnie.
"His showmanship, his charisma, his tactics, the way he just willed himself and the team around him to win games for Australia.
"There are so many guys in this team and squad who still have him as a hero and all-time favourite player. The loss we are trying to wrap our head around is huge.
"The game of cricket was never the same after Shane emerged, and it will never be the same now he has gone. Rest in peace King."
Warne was Australia's greatest-ever bowler and arguably the country's second greatest cricketer in history behind Don Bradman.
Named one of the five cricketers of the 20th century by Wisden when he was still midway through his career, Warne owned the field in the way few others have.
A magician with the ball, the legspinner remains Australia's leading wicket-taker and sits second behind Muthiah Muralidaran globally with 708 scalps in 145 Tests.
He 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.
"Shane was one of the most talented and charismatic cricketers we have ever witnessed," Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said.
"He loved cricket, had an extraordinarily astute understanding of the game and his influence and legacy will last for as long as it is played.
"We are in a state of complete shock at his sudden passing."
Teammate Adam Gilchrist took to social with 12 broken hearts, while the likes of Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Michael Vaughan posted their shock and devastation.
"Numb. The highlight of my cricketing career was to keep wicket to Warnie. Best seat in the house to watch the maestro at work," said Gilchrist.
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.
SHANE WARNE (September 13, 1969 - March 4, 2022)
* Tests: 145
* Test Wickets: 708 at 25.41
* Test Runs: 3154 at 17.32
* ODIs: 194
* ODI wickets: 293 at 25.73
* ODI runs: 1018 and 13.05
* One of five Wisden Cricketers of 20th century
* Australian Cricket Hall of Fame
* ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
* Sport Australia Hall of Fame
* 1999 World Cup winner
* 1999 World Cup player of the final
Shane Warne transcended cricket.
Even 15 years after he played the last of his 145 Tests, Australia's greatest bowler was still one of the country's most famous and colourful personalities.
Warne, who died suddenly in Thailand on Friday aged 52, is arguably the second-finest cricketer Australia has ever produced after Sir Donald Bradman.
A larger-than-life character, he captured the public's imagination by making leg-spin bowling one of the coolest things you could do as an Australian kid in the 1990s.
Warne was freakishly good at his craft, but blending it with flair, personality and controversy made him the full package.
Born in Upper Ferntree Gully, an outer suburb of Melbourne, on September 13 1969, Shane Keith Warne was intent on carving out a career as an Australian Rules football player with his beloved St Kilda before cricket "found" him.
His rise to international stardom was rapid and remarkable.
The Australian Cricket Academy in Adelaide didn't suit him - he was even sent home on a 44-hour bus trip from a tour in Darwin for "mooning" some hotel guests - so he quit and returned to Victoria.
He played just seven first-class matches before making an inauspicious Test debut against India in January 1992.
Smashed to all parts of the SCG by Ravi Shastri and Sachin Tendulkar to finish with unflattering figures of 1-150, Warne went wicketless in his next Test in Adelaide before waiting seven months for another shot.
But when that next opportunity came, he grabbed it and never let go.
In just his third Test match, Warne bowled Australia to a famous victory against Sri Lanka by taking 3-0 in his last 13 balls.
From that moment, there was nothing stopping him conquering cricket and beyond.
His first heroics as an international were conducted in the low-key surroundings of Colombo, but Warne was born for the big stage.
Delivering his first ball in an Ashes series in England, Warne bamboozled England veteran Mike Gatting with the masterful 'Ball of the Century' in 1993.
"Had I got that ball and he'd gone onto get 35 Test wickets, went back to the beach and retired, I would have been really upset, but the fact he turned out to to be the best legspinner of all-time is not so bad," Gatting said in the Shane documentary.
In the space of about three years, Warne went from club cricketer to global sport icon.
He became the face of Nike in Australia, and even partnered up with NBA superstar Michael Jordan during a trip to America.
"(Jordan) loved the Aussie sports so it was great to talk to him about mindset, his approach and his competitiveness, how he loved to win," Warne said of his meeting with the Chicago Bulls legend.
The Warne brand became so big that anything he wanted, he got.
"I was front page, back page, middle page and everything was good," he said in the Shane documentary.
On the 1998 tour of India, Warne and coach Geoff Marsh requested a shipment of baked beans be delivered as they had become fed up with eating spicy food.
It was reported at the time Warne refused to eat anything else on tour other than cans of baked beans but later claimed that was a "myth".
"On both sides of this big crate it was mentioned 'Shane Warne, India'," he said.
"There were a lot of other players who wanted the spaghetti and beans but it was just addressed to me."
Warne seemed close to invincible on the field, but managed to find trouble off it.
He loved cigarettes and was photographed by a teenager smoking in New Zealand in 2000, despite signing a high-profile deal to be quitting.
Warne was the star of Australia's 1999 World Cup campaign, but missed the tournament four years later after being found guilty by anti-doping authorities of using a banned diuretic.
Amid personal heartache on the eve of the 2005 Ashes, Warne was somehow Australia's most dominant player in one of the greatest Test series of all-time.
His marriage broke down after a tabloid sting revealed a salacious sex scandal, leading his wife Simone to return to Australia with their three children after the family planned to reside in England.
Still, he took 40 wickets across the five Tests, one of only eight instances of a bowler taking 40 or more wickets in a series.
"I would play cricket and go back to the hotel room and raid the minibar. Just sit in my room by myself and just drink," he said in the Shane documentary.
"(English fans) for six hours a day, not just ten minutes, singing songs (like) 'Where's your missus gone?'."
After retiring from international cricket in 2007 with 708 Test wickets and one of Wisden's five cricketers of the century, Warne was an instant hit in the Indian Premier League with the Rajasthan Royals.
As a captain-coach, Warne, who had such a fertile cricketing mind that many felt he was the best skipper Australia never had, led his team to the inaugural title in 2008 to gain even more respect from cricket-obsessed Indians.
"Winning the first IPL was icing on the cake for Shane because he was already up in there (Indian) people's eyes," fellow cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said.
His post-cricket presence stretched to charity, commentary, poker, gin and fragrances.
Warne's friendship circle contained rock stars, footballers and politicians, and he even had a high-profile engagement to film star Elizabeth Hurley.
He is survived by his children Jackson, Brooke and Summer, mother and father Bridgette and Keith, and brother Jason.
Australian Associated Press
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