The sports world has been left in a state of shock by the news of the sudden death of the great Shane Warne.
From modern cricketing greats like England’s Ben Stokes to all-time legends of the game like Viv Richards, the overwhelming reaction was that the great bowler’s death at the age of just 52 on Friday seemed unthinkable.
He was still such a larger than life character that his old foes on the field who became his great friends in the TV commentary box were left stupefied.
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Former England captain Michael Vaughan captured it best as he said of Warne: “Everyone wanted to be around him but ultimately he was just a normal guy who could do incredible things.
“It just doesn’t feel real to be talking about someone who once was an enemy on the pitch to one who became a great friend off it.
“Shane was the greatest ever cricketer but more than that his character lit up every dressing room, comm box, bar, golf club & friendship group.
“His energy and positivity was beyond anyone I have ever known, he was loyal beyond loyal.”
West Indian legend Richards, who, like Warne, was one Wisden’s five cricketers of the century, said: “Unbelievable. I am shocked to the core. This can’t be true… There are no words to describe what I feel right now. A huge loss for cricket.”
India great Sachin Tendulkar, who alongside Brian Lara was the batsman that Warne felt was the best he’d bowled to, said simply: “Will miss you Warnie.
“There was never a dull moment with you around, on or off the field. Will always treasure our on field duels & off field banter. You always had a special place for India & Indians had a special place for you.
“Gone too young!”
Lara himself wrote on social media: “My friend is gone!! We have lost one of the Greatest Sportsmen of all time!! RIP Warnie!! You will be missed.”
Another Indian batting legend Virat Kohli described Warne as the “goat” – greatest of all-time – saying: “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.”
India’s current captain Rohit Sharma, who had been leading his team in action in a Test against Sri Lanka in Mohali, tweeted: “I’m truly lost for words here, this is extremely sad. An absolute legend and champion of our game has left us.”
His fellow Indian star, paceman Jasprit Bumrah said he was “shocked beyond words … A legend of our game, an icon, and someone who revolutionised spin bowling.”
Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who’s captaining his side against Australia in the current Test, said: “Find it hard to believe.
“Such a devastating loss for the cricket world. He literally inspired generations with his magical leg spin. You’ll forever be missed.”
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi felt cricket “has lost what I consider a university of leg-spin bowling today.”
England allrounder Stokes wrote on Instagram that it “was an honour to know and work with” Warne.
“This man is a LEGEND,” he added.
The England men’s team, who are in the Caribbean preparing for a three-Test series against the West Indies, stood for a minute’s silence in honour of Warne before their match in Antigua.
Mike Gatting, the victim of Warne’s ‘Ball of the Century’ at Old Trafford in the 1993 Ashes, called his old Ashes tormentor “the number one bowler ever” in Test history.
“There have been a lot of great cricketers, great spinners and great legspinners but Warnie will always be certainly, from my point of view, the number one,” said the former England captain.