Shane Warne was remembered as “mesmerizing” and a “genius” during a state funeral service in Melbourne on Wednesday attended by tens of thousands of legendary spectators and players, with music superstars Elton John and Chris Martin performing via video link.
The beloved Australian cricketer died this month at a luxury resort in Thailand from a suspected heart attack at the age of 52, causing shock and grief to millions of fans as well as prime ministers, rock stars and other players. .
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The greatest “king of spin” was awarded a two-hour service at the Melbourne Cricket Ground with over 50,000 free tickets distributed. It was broadcast live to cricket pitches across Australia and seen around the world.
“Looking ahead without Shane is inconceivable,” said his father Keith after beating Greta, the granddaughter of the great Donald Bradman, sang the national anthem to kick off the proceedings.
“But we are comforted to know that Shane has put more into his life of 52 years, five months and 19 days than most people would in two lifetimes.”
Warne’s son Jackson said “there was no other better place in the world” to hold the famous MCG memorial where Warne created so many memories, including a hat-trick in an Ashes Test against England and taking his 700th wicket of the test.
“It’s very special to a lot of us, especially our family,” she said.
A stand on the ground has been officially renamed in honor of Warne, who in the eyes of many is second only to Bradman in the long list of great Australian sportsmen.
Some fans in attendance wore their cricket uniforms, while others wore Warne T-shirts with skyrocketing excitement as they took photos in front of his statue outside the venue.
A woman showed off her new tattoo on Warne’s thigh, which she had done last week.
Mark Taylor, who captained him for Australia, said the huge interest showed “how much admired Shane Warne was.”
“The fact that he had that rough diamond character on him made him what people love to see. People like to see something a little different and they got it with Warnie, ”Taylor told reporters.
Fellow Australian captain Allan Border called him “a genius”.
“I don’t know how the Oxford dictionary defined genius, but he’s as close to genius as I am, to the way he developed his game and simply transcended everything,” he said. “He has left us a lot of memories and such beautiful moments”.
– ‘Beloved life’ –
Current Australian test captain Pat Cummins posted a heartwarming tribute online, reading a touching poem written about Warne as one-day skipper Aaron Finch pointed to his fellow Victorian charity work.
“His cricket prowess was one thing, but his generous heart was second to none,” said Finch from Pakistan.
Music stars Elton John, Martin, Robbie Williams and Ed Sheeran played all songs via video link.
“It’s a sad day today, but somehow it’s not because his legacy survives and will live on through future generations because he was charming, brilliant and loved to play cricket and loved life,” said John before singing “Don’t Let the sun go down on me ‘.
A barefoot Martin, on the piano, performed “Eulogy”, a piece he wrote for Warne, before a solo acoustic rendition of Coldplay’s “Yellow”.
Hollywood star Hugh Jackman appeared remotely among others, as did golfer Greg Norman and surf giant Kelly Slater.
Cricket greats such as Brian Lara and Nasser Hussain were among a number of former serving players.
Credited for reviving the art of leg twisting, Warne took 708 test wickets as part of a dominant Australian team in the 1990s and 2000s before becoming a respected commentator.
Prior to the state service in his memory, Warne’s family, friends and teammates mourned him at a private funeral on March 20.