Australia’s Indian community remembers legendary cricketer Shane Warne


The Sydney-based Cricket Australia ambassador said he felt “incredibly heartbroken” when he started reading the headlines.

Warne, 52, was found unconscious in a villa in Koh Samui, Thailand, and could not be revived after being taken to Thai International Hospital.

The news of his death has sparked a wave of emotion across the world and from all walks of life, including politics, the entertainment industry and the sports community.

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Mr Singh said he met the legendary legpinner several times in his role with Cricket Australia and as a founder of the Australian-Indian Sports Educational & Cultural Society (AISECS) and the Swami Army Fan Group.

“He was my childhood hero and we shared many times together,” he told SBS News, adding his fondest memory was sharing a Qantas flight with Warne in 2015.

“He signed his boarding pass for me. It’s a wonderful memory.

“[His death] is so sad, not just for cricket in Australia, but for cricket all over the world. I’m in shock he’s not with us.

The boarding pass signed by Shane Warne for Gurnam Singh.

The boarding pass signed by Shane Warne for Gurnam Singh. Credit: Gurnam Singh.

Warne is considered one of the sport’s greats and considered by pundits to be the second best cricketer Australia has ever produced after Sir Donald Bradman.

He remains Australia’s top wicket-taker and is second only to Muttiah Muralitharan in the world with 708 scalps in 145 Tests.

Despite the statistics on the pitch, Mr Singh believes it was his relationship and sporting rivalry with Indian great Sachin Tendulkar that served as a conduit in bilateral relations between the two countries.

“It’s always Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar, that’s the real combination.”

Shane Warne and Gurnam Singh.

Shane Warne and Gurnam Singh. Credit: Gurnam Singh

In 2008, at the age of 37, semi-retired Warne led the Rajasthan Royals to victory in the inaugural Indian Premier League.

Former Royals player Dishant Yagnik, who made his IPL debut under Warne’s command, says his former mentor will be remembered for the approach to the game.

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Shane Warne and Dishant Yagnik playing for the Rajasthan Royals.

“As for Shane Warne’s commitment, I have never seen him arrive late for the bus or for practices and meetings,” he told SBS Gujarati.

“Once he crossed the rope and went into the ground, you could see a whole different Shane Warne. The commitment to the game, the fighting spirit, the ‘win from anywhere’ situation and the attitude of never saying die, those types of words belong to Shane Warne alone.”

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Indian cricketer Dinesh Salunkhe, who also played under Warne at the Royals, said he was “very close” to the Australian during the period and afterwards.

“He was my hero and I chose bowling solely because of him,” he said from Mumbai.

“I consider myself lucky to have played under his guidance. I am very upset to hear the sad news.”

Salunkhe recalls the last game of the 2008 season where Rajasthan needed 25 runs from 18 balls to win.

“[Warne] had a plan in mind and in the end he won the game and the tournament for us,” he said.

Salunkhe said he stayed in touch with Warne via WhatsApp.

Sports and fitness in Mumbai

Dinesh Salunkhe with Shane Warne at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi in June 2008. Credit: Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

“Warne used to ask about me and my family’s well-being. I last spoke to Warne a month ago which will be in my heart forever.”

Multicultural NSW chairman and former chairman of the NSW Cricket board, Dr Harry Harinath, said he would remember Warne as “one of the most fascinating sportsmen on the planet”.

“You may not even know cricket, or know Shane Warne was a champion cricket player, but you knew who he was.”

Additional reporting by Vatsal Patel

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