The cricket community was ‘devastated’ and in shock today at news of the death of Shane Warne at only 52.

Legends of the game from around the world joined in mourning the Australian spin bowler and lauded his influence on generations of young cricketers.

Warne, one of Australia’s greatest cricketers, suffered a suspected fatal heart attack while on holiday in Thailand. 

A statement from Warne’s management 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.”

Warne’s body has been transported to Koh Samui Hospital, where an autopsy will be undertaken to confirm the cause of death.

The man affectionately known as ‘Warnie’ is Australia’s highest ever wicket taker, with 708 test wickets over a 16-year career. 

Speaking to Central News, former Australian women’s cricket captain Alex Blackwell, said: “I didn’t believe it… just really devastated to lose someone so young and someone who’s so prominent in Australia, and so loved for all of what he was, you know, the good and the bad.

“I think we’re going to miss having him a part of our game… it was devastating to hear.” 

Named one of Wisden’s five ‘Cricketers of the Century’, Warne was recognised alongside Sir Don Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Viv Richards. Warne was also inducted into the ICC’s Cricket Hall of Fame.

The leg spinner had one of his deliveries described by commentators as the ‘Ball of the Century’. In 1993, playing in his first Ashes test, Warne clean bowled Mike Gatting, with the ball jagging back from outside leg stump to hit off stump, completely bamboozingly the English batsman. 

Australia’s men’s test captain Pat Cummins shared his condolences on behalf of Australia’s test cricket team and support staff in Pakistan, saying how ‘Warnie’ was an “all-time great, a once-in-a-century kind of cricketer”.

“So many guys in this team and squad who still hold him as a hero, their all-time favourite player, and the loss we’re all trying to wrap our heads around is huge,” he said.

“The game was never the same after Warnie emerged, and the game will never be the same after his passing. Rest in peace King.”

Warne was a controversial figure in the Australian cricket landscape, a larrikin involved in gambling controversies and once testing positive for a banned substance he said had been given to him by his mum. But when he left the game he was recognised as an all-time great and successfully carved out a new career in cricket commentary – remaining a favourite among the Australian public and his peers. 

“He lived life to the very full and I think it’s nice to see people who actually have a strong character show that out on the field and in every sort of interaction… he was an entertainer,” said Blackwell.

“He did inspire a generation of spin bowlers. And not just in Australia. People wanted to emulate him.

“I went to Japan to do some coaching with the Japanese women’s team and I got to learn about some young players in Japan who had no access to coaching but watched Shane Warne on YouTube and taught themselves how to bowl leg spin.

“I think that inspiration of a generation of players is a huge impact that we will remember.”

Other cricketing greats shared their condolences and heartbreak, including Sir Viv Richards, Adam Gilchrist, and Sachin Tendulkar.

Warne’s final tweet honoured fellow Australian cricketing hero Rod Marsh, who passed away of a heart attack not 24 hours before Warne. Marsh was 74.

In honour of Warne and his contributions to cricket, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has announced the Great Southern Stand at the MCG will be renamed the S.K. Warne Stand.

Main Photo of Shane Warne bowling during his last innings on Day 3 of the MCG Test Match vs England in 2007 by Prescott Pym/Flickr