Australian cricketing legend Shane Warne is commemorated by his family, friends, international celebrities and the country’s political elite at a state memorial in Melbourne.
About 55,000 people flocked to the MCG for Wednesday’s service after the spin king, 52, died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand on March 4.
In a moving speech, Keith Warne paid tribute and described his son’s death as “the darkest day in the life of our family”.
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“Buddy, your mom and I can’t imagine a life without you. You were taken too soon and our hearts are broken,” he said.
Music legend Elton John performed a pre-recorded version of Don’t let the sun go down on me and called Warne one of the greatest Australian cricketers of all time.
“It’s a sad day today, but in some ways it’s not because his legacy lives on and it will live on through generations to come,” the singer said.
Coldplay frontman Chris Martin sang a remote rendition of YellowEd Sheeran performed Thinking out loudand a favorite of Robbie Williams, angels.
The latter praised Warne’s ability to “transcend tribalism” despite having “dismantled England too many times”.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman has added his voice to the chorus of virtual tributes, saying Warne has enjoyed every second of his 52 years.
“Man, he sucked the marrow out of life. There was no one like you, Warnie, and there never will be again,” he said.
Actor Eric Bana, two-time British Open champion Greg Norman, American surfer Kelly Slater and Australian singers Kylie and Dannii Minogue were among others to commemorate the great cricket.
Others at the MCG, the site of Warne’s hat-trick in 1994 and 700th Test wicket in 2006, included former Australia captain Allan Border, former England skipper Nasser Hussain and West Indian great Brian Lara.
St Kilda great and friend Aaron Hamill gave a glimpse into Warne’s larrikin nature, when the cricketer was his best man and leaned in for a hug just before the nuptials.
“He said ‘man, it’s not too late’ and, Shane being Shane, he pulled out two passports. He managed to get his hands on my passport like a gag,” Hamill said.
Warne’s appeal for everyone was on full display off the pitch.
Her statue has once again become a shrine strewn with Victoria Bitter cans and baked beans – two of her great loves.
Watch Shane Warne’s memorial service live from the MCG on Channel 7 and 7plus from 7pm AEDT, or in the video player at the top of the page
– With PAA