Melbourne, Mar 5 (PTI) Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Saturday that the late spider legend Shane Warne will be given a state funeral, while the cricket board decided to rename a stand at the MCG in his honor as the country mourned the loss of one of its greatest athletes. .
Warne, one of the greatest players of all time, died on Friday at the age of 52 from a suspected heart attack in Thailand.
Morrison said Australians were “stunned” by a “sad and sudden” loss of Warne and that the state funeral would be organized by federal and Victorian governments, Cricket Australia and the family of “one of our greatest cricketers of all time”.
In recognition of Warne’s “national achievements, his family will be offered a state funeral,” Morrison said in a statement.
“This will be done in consultation with the Warne family,” he said, pledging to “make sure we honor Shane’s passing and memory.”
The Great Southern Stand at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) will also be renamed in Warne’s honour, with Victoria’s Minister for Tourism and Sports, Martin Pakula, making the announcement on Saturday morning after consulting with Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews, MCC Trust Chairman Steve Bracks and MCC CEO Stuart Fox.
“We will rename the Great Southern Stand to the SK Warne stand and we will do that as soon as possible,” said Pakula.
“I can think of no finer tribute to the greatest cricketer this state has produced than to rename the stand the SK Warne stand and whatever happens to that stand in the future, be it rebuilt, refurbished, renovated, it will the SK remain.
“Warne stands forever, because his legend will live forever.”
Warne had taken his 700th Test wicket and also claimed an Ashes hat-trick at the MCG and there is already a statue of the legend outside the ground.
In tribute to Warne, people gathered around his statue, offering flowers, cricket balls, beer, pies and cigarettes in tribute to his flamboyant lifestyle and cricketing genius.
Cricket Victoria also plans to potentially rename a stand at the Junction Oval in Warne’s honour.
Prime Minister Morrison praised the spin legend, saying: “He was one of our nation’s greatest characters. His humor, his passion, his irreverence, his approachability made him loved by everyone.”
“There was no one like Shane. He lived his life his way. He had his great achievements, but also his regrets. He wore them all the same way,” Morrison said.
“With a cheeky smile and joie de vivre. There was something magical he brought to our summers. The bleached blond hair, the almost casual way he moved to send a delivery, and his engagement with the crowd. He was one of a kind.”
“He inspired so many girls and boys to try cricket. He made it all look so easy. At one point, in most Australian backyards, we were all trying to deliver a pinball. Our love and condolences go out to Shane’s family, especially his children Brooke, Jackson and Summer.”
Warne’s sudden passing has shocked the cricket fraternity around the world with players, both past and present, lost for words and devastated by the tragedy.
An iconic name in international cricket, Warne has played 145 Tests for Australia since his 1992 debut, taking 708 wickets on his leg spin. In his 194 ODI appearances, Warne strict 293 scalps.