It is personal. It feels emotional. It feels as if someone has ripped out a part of one’s identity and left them to figure out the extent of that gaping hole. However, filling it is not the immediate reaction because it is futile to try it. With a loss like that, it feels that the world has got rearranged. On Friday, the entire world, not only the cricketing world felt the same way. Fans, admirers, and detractors were equally left shell shocked by the tragic demise of legendary cricketer and arguably the greatest bowler of all time, Shane Warne.
Warne’s management released a brief statement in the early hours of Saturday (AEDT) saying he passed away of a suspected heart attack. It was the suddenness that shocked many, after all, the ‘King’ as he was called by his peers, lived a larger-than-life and was the embodiment of what people called genius – a flawed genius but a genius, nonetheless. Losing an icon at the early age of 52 is a huge loss and the cricketing community, as a result, is poorer by his absence.
Shane Warne – a true, unique character of the great game
People often talk about characters in our game and how it makes the game fascinating. Warne epitomized what it meant to be a character. He took the centre stage of the play, made it his own canvas, and painted performances that even the most gifted ones would not have been able to conjure. He made leg-spin cool.
His exploits wearing the baggy green have been well documented. He was a master of his craft – a craft, which is arguably the toughest skill to master in the game of cricket. And yet, he made the skill and its execution seem easy, almost comically effortless. Chalking statistics at this moment doesn’t sit right but claiming 708 Test wickets, playing in a country for the majority of a career that is not suited for spin bowling — one has to tip their hats to the genius the man possessed.
An indescribable loss for millions like us
The generations before us have lost their legends but for those born in the late 90s and early 2000s, Warne’s loss is like losing that fun Uncle who was always the life of the party and showed you the ropes, with an effervescent smile on his face.
After all, whenever we picked the cricket ball, we tried to roll our arms in the same manner that the legend did. A vicious turner on the tarmac pitches of gully cricket was raucously met with remarks of “Don’t try to become Warne.’ Of course, it was a badge of honour that left one gleaming for days to come as you had just been compared to your idol.
There are cricketing legends that often fall out of love with the game after retiring. However, Warne was not the same. He lived, breathed, and most importantly enjoyed every minute detail of the game. After his retirement, Warne was a regular in the commentary box and his ideas and analysis only made him more endearing to the fans.
A true friend and a man of all times
Of all the obituaries pouring in for Warne across the horizon of the internet, nearly every essay has one particular theme. The theme is that Warne made them feel 10 feet taller with his graciousness and the ability to make anyone feel at home. His banter was top drawer, his knowledge unparalleled but most importantly his ability to assimilate everyone into his orbit made him stand apart. Warne was the kind of man that stood by you at your worst and picked up the phone whenever you needed that gentle hug.
Ricky Ponting, Warne’s captain for a major part of his career took to Twitter to share his pain. Ponting said, “Hard to put this into words. I first met him when I was 15 at the Academy. He gave me my nickname. We were teammates for more than a decade, riding all the highs and lows together. Through it all, he was someone you could always count on, someone who loved his family…
We know Warne wouldn’t have liked us to tear up and not enjoy his final performance. It may not be to anyone’s liking but, in all fairness who fully understood the chaotic genius of the man, ever?
He was an entertainer and I hope he knew how much he meant to millions of us. So, here’s a pint to you ‘King’ as we cheer you and your memory. Rest in power sir. Rest easy. Heaven will be a lively place with you in it. As for us, we will learn to live with the indescribable void you have left us.