Shane Warne’s death has triggered an outpouring of emotion in England, a nation which despite its fierce Ashes rivalry had become a second home for the legendary cricketer.
Warne’s outrageous antics on and off the field where chronicled for decades on the front and back pages of Fleet Street’s tabloids, from sex scandals, his brief engagement to model and actress Elizabeth Hurley and his year-long ban for doping.
Warne, who debuted in England with the “Ball of the Century” in 1993, captained county cricket club Hampshire for three seasons from 2005 to 2007. He was also a regular on British TV through his role as a Sky Sports pundit.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson led the tributes to Warne, while Sarah, the Duchess of York, actor and comedian Stephen Fry and soccer legend Garry Lineker also spoke of their sadness along with former England cricket greats Sir Ian Botham, Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen.
Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, who recently appeared in a documentary on Warne, said he was “absolutely gutted”.
“The world keeps taking incredible people away,” Sheeran wrote on Instagram.
“Shane was the kindest heart, and always went above and beyond to make people feel welcome and special. Such a gentleman. He gave so many hours and years of his life to bring joy to others, and was such an amazing friend to me.”
Johnson said he was “shocked and saddened” to learn of Warne’s death.
“A cricketing genius and one of the nicest guys you could meet, who also did a lot to help disadvantaged kids into sport.
Fry, a passionate cricket fan, said he was “heartbroken” to wake to the news of Warne’s death in America.
“Heart was what he was all about; a huge heart and, of course, matchlessly dazzling skill with a cricket ball. He single-handedly (wristedly) put the art of spin back where it belonged – at the top of cricket. A true great.”