Shane Warne was cricket’s ‘greatest showman’, says Sir Andrew Strauss; Mike Gatting, Joe Root pay tribute | Cricket News
Warne, one of the greatest cricketers of all-time and among its most recognisable names, has died aged 52 following a suspected heart attack; Sporting world united to pay tribute to the legendary leg-spinner
Last Updated: 04/03/22 7:01pm
Sir Andrew Strauss has described Shane Warne as the “greatest showman” and said nobody did more to grow the game of cricket than the Australian legend.
Warne – widely regarded as one of cricket’s all-time greats – died on Friday aged 52, following a suspected heart attack, with the former leg-spinner found unresponsive in his Thailand villa and unable to be resuscitated.
The leg-spinner claimed 708 Test wickets during a 15-year international career, only second to Muttiah Muralitharan, with Strauss paying tribute to the legacy that Warne – a former colleague in the Sky Sports commentary box – had within the sport.
“He was literally the greatest showman,” Strauss told Sky Sports News. “There will be other cricketers whose records might be as good as his, but no-one played the game in the way that he did.
“It was the flamboyancy, the great aura that he had as a cricketer, his enthusiasm for the game, the incredible competitive spirit he had and then of course, the extraordinary skills that he had in those magical fingers of his.
“It was the greatest challenge that I ever had as a cricketer to face up against him and I’m sure there are countless other cricketers who would say the same thing. You were playing the grand master of the game and he made you know it as well!
“It was a great privilege and a pleasure and, even more so, to get to know him off the pitch after our careers, to see his love and passion for the game and his enthusiasm for life. He was an extraordinary character and one that’s going to be hugely missed by the game.”
Life is so fickle and unpredictable. I cannot process the passing of this great of our sport and also a person I got to know off the field. RIP #goat. Greatest to turn the cricket ball. pic.twitter.com/YtOkiBM53q
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) March 4, 2022
Warne was the first to 700 Test wickets, retiring immediately after helping Australia to a 5-0 Ashes win in his 145th match in 2007, while he guided his nation to victory in the 1999 World Cup and ended with 293 one-day dismissals in 194 games.
“As a statesman and a showman of the game, he’s number one by a country mile,” Strauss added. “If you look in terms of the greatest cricketer, then obviously there’s Don Bradman and then after that, there’s Shane Warne. I don’t think there’s anyone above him, let’s put it that way.
“I remember him once saying to me that people don’t remember what you do, they remember how you played the game. I think that’s what we’re remembering about him right at the moment.
“Yes, we’re remembering all of his wickets but we’re also remembering how he went about his cricket, that smile on his face and the competitive spirit. The ability to laugh at yourself and have a bit of a joke off the pitch, that’s what we all love so much about Shane Warne.
“As we said before, he was the number one star in the game of cricket, still to this day I say. We’ve all got to come to terms with this massive vacuum that will have been created by his death. It’s an awfully sad time for the game with the passing of Shane Warne and Rod Marsh, we’ve had a lot to take in over the last couple of days and it’s going to take us all a little while to figure it out and make sense of it.”
Gatting: Warne “Cricket’s number one”
Warne was catapulted into stardom when he dismissed Mike Gatting during the 1993 Ashes series, with the wicket at Old Trafford later described as “ball of the century”.
“It is a huge loss to many, many people,” Gatting told Sky Sports News. “Without a doubt, he is the number one ever. I should think there have been a lot of great cricketers, great spinners and great leg-spinners but Warnie will always be, certainly from my point of view, the number one.
“He had all the things a cricketer needed, a lot of self-confidence, a lot of ability, the discipline, passion and desire.
“Above all he had time to enjoy it. He had great fun playing cricket and resonated with a lot of youngsters. The inspirational leg-spin he bowled I am sure inspired many, many guys to take up leg-spin bowling.”
Root: Warne a ‘massive idol’
Warne was at the forefront of Australia’s six Ashes victories in a row and was a huge presence in the 2005 series, where he took 40 wickets but was unable to stop England from reclaiming the urn with 2-1 win on home soil.
On asked about the impact Warne had on his career, England captain Joe Root told Sky Sports News: “Obviously, as a kid growing up, he was a massive idol of mine and someone you wanted to emulate. The way he could win a game on his own and his skill levels were incredible.
“I would’ve been 14 when that 2005 Ashes was on, and it many ways that series was massive. The way he captured the nation, along with the whole of that series, but his phenomenal performances throughout were…they’re the sort of things that make you want to get into the game and play at the highest level.
“You could see his joy and enthusiasm from when he played, but it was still there when you got to speak to him as a player now. He was great chat to about the game, was very knowledgeable and just wanted to see the game played at the peak of its powers. It’s just really sad.”