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Shane Warne memorial service as it happened: Celebrities, legends and loved ones farewell an Australian sporting icon

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30th March, 2022
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Thank you for tuning into The Roar’s coverage of Shane Warne’s memorial service. An emotional night for all, and finished on a perfect note with the christening of the Shane Warne stand.

Warnie, remembered forever.

9:23pm- To finish off in perfect style, Brooke, Jackson and Summer Warne unveil the Shane Warne Stand.

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9:21pm– Eddie McGuire wraps up the night.

“He mixed with superstars and became one himself. Never forget the sprinkle that he sprinkled the gold dust on his friends and mates.

“Happy to sing-along to bangers and holding court with the biggest names in the commentary box. Proud of his foundation and of being one of Wisden’s five greatest players.

“He launched the Big Bash League because he wanted to play at the ‘G in front of his kids and loved ones, and put the star into the Melbourne Stars.

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“Loved and respected from England to the subcontinent and his beloved India and Sri Lanka. He went from being a wide eyed boy with dreams to be a citizen of the world and left no one behind. He was a champion in every way. 

“And now, every time we look into the great southern stand we will think of Shane. For Warnie offered hope and excitement, grit and determination, fun and memories. It is the stand of the people. It is the Shane Warne Stand forever.”

9:20pm– Now, fittingly, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, performed by trumpeter Mat Jodrell.

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9:15pm– To finish off the night, the Great Southern Stand at the MCG will be newly unveiled as the Shane Warne Stand. But first, Anthony Callea sings Andrea Bocelli’s ‘The Prayer’.

9:10pm– Eldest daughter Brooke is next.

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“My Dad just wanted to be the best Dad he could be. He would always want to play games, take us to parks, watch movies, and chill around the house. At the end of the day, he just wanted to be our Dad.

“On holidays I would always want to try new foods and new restaurants and Dad wasn’t very experimental with foods so I would be the only one that would end up eating. If he knew we were going out for dinner somewhere, where he wouldn’t eat anything, he would order room service beforehand and pretend he wasn’t hungry at dinner! That’s just who he was.”

“I will miss our chats about life and about my plans and goals and I will miss hearing about all your exciting things you have planned and have coming up. I will miss seeing how excited you get over our achievements and your achievements. 

“I have to come to the fact that my Dad will never get to see me grow up or Jackson or Summer or see us get married one day, have kids and get the promotion I was going for.

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“Dad was our shining star in life and now he’s shining down on all of us. We will do you so proud, Dad and we are so proud of everything you have achieved. We’re going to do what you always told us – try our best and we will try our best to live in a world without you.

“I love you always, Dad.”

9:06pm– Son Jackson is next.

“You never pressured me into playing cricket and all you ever wanted for me was to be happy. You watched me for hours and hours building Lego. You would play Super Smash Bros with me, even though it was impossible for you to win.”

9pm– Brother Jason’s letter to Warne, nearly 30 years old.

Shane Warne’s children, starting with daughter Summer, speak next.

“There is comfort in knowing how loved around the world he was and still is. How he inspired so many of you to play cricket and bowl leg spin. He touched so many people’s lives and always wanted to help and support people in any way he could. 

“When Dad would walk into a room, the whole room would light up. He could make you crack a smile even if you didn’t feel like smiling that day. He made you feel appreciated and so loved. His infectious smile and laugh is something I’m going to forever miss. He was an inspiration.

“When I was struggling, and I didn’t know how to go on with life because I was dealing with my own demons, you showed me how I could fall in love with life again. You told me that I could either live with these demons or fight with them and come out stronger at the end. You saved me, Dad. You truly did.

“I want to say thank you Dad. Thank you for all the kind gestures you did for me. They never went unnoticed. You drew memories in my mind I will never erase and you painted colours in my heart I will never replace.

“You will always live forever inside my heart Dad, and I will continue your legacy. Forever my Dad, no matter where you are. May you now rest in eternal paradise, I love you so unconditionally much.”

8:58pm– One of Warne’s closest cricketing friends, former Australian captain Michael Clarke, is next.

“Thank you for everything, mate. The way you looked after me. The way you treated me and I first came into that Australian team. I was such a baby. You took me under your wing. You looked after me like a little brother.

“You taught me so much about the game of cricket. You taught me more than that. The highs and lows of life and how sport is so similar to life. I was asked the other day how do you, how do you say goodbye? And I don’t think I ever can. But I can say I’ll see you later.”

Then, former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming: “Warnie, you were one hell of a cricket player but an even better mates. From taking wickets on the field, and giving me time off – we played 500 during rain breaks in Test cricket and have ferocious golf games. Never a dull moment with you, mate.”

Wasim Akram, Pakistan legend: “I never thought I’d be saying goodbye to my dear friend, Shane Warne. A man who was so great, so full of life. One we all looked up to. To be around. We all wanted to call a true friend. An exceptional cricketer, an all-time great obviously. Goodbye, my friend.”

8:53pm– Another close friend of Warne’s, singer Ed Sheeran, has the next message, performing his song ‘Thinking Out Loud’.

“Shane was an incredible human to me and every single person that he came across and I’ve got such wonderful stories of him and people he didn’t even know that have wonderful stories of him that he gave so much of his time and energy and love to. And I just, he was such a great bloke. And I’m honoured to be playing tonight.”

8:45- Shane Warne’s brother, Jason, speaks next.

“Shane has connected with us all in many ways. Whether it being entertained by his amazing exploits on the cricket ground, through the time he spent and putting a smile on the face of many children, or the times he’s met you in person, made you feel special.

“The tributes that have flowed over the past few weeks have been extremely heartfelt. It’s highlighted his outstanding career, his personal traits, and we thank you for those. We will miss the many ways that Shane has touched our lives.

“I remember catching the train in here [to the MCG] with Shane back in 1982, when AB and ‘Thommo’ [Jeff Thomson] had the famous last stand. Sitting just behind us here, and it’s hard to get my head around the fact that was the start of his association with this amazing ground.

“And to know that the stand is now going to be renamed in his honour is just amazing.

“The friendly but fierce brotherly rivalry we had and shared for 50 years will never be replaced and will be sorely missed. He was the best brother I could have asked for, not just because he got us on to the side of the stage of Pearl Jam, but it was because he was my mate and he made me a better person.

“We pushed each other but for the right reasons. The bonds created through sport last a lifetime. The bond of brothers lasts a lifetime.

“I’m very fortunate to have shared both of these bonds with him. He will leave a massive hole in my life that will never be filled.

“I will always love him and always miss my big brother. Rest in peace, mate.”

8:43pm– One of Warnie’s fiercest on-field rivals, Indian great Sachin Tendulkar, delivers a touching message.

“Warnie, I remember was always extremely competitive and everything possible to disturb opposition, to dismiss them, he would do. When someone batted well he was the first one to walk up to you and congratulate.

“That is how our friendship and respect for each other was. Warnie, my friend, I will miss you. I will miss you big time. You will continue to live in my heart. May your soul rest in peace.”

Then close friend and bowling partner in crime Glenn McGrath: “Well, the thing I probably loved about Shane is the affect he had on people – good, bad or indifferent – they all had an opinion on him.

“I remember talking to a group of people and they’d all have different opinions. A perception of him. Shane would walk across and have a chat and get to know them and within 30 seconds every single one of them loved him.

“There was a certain charisma he had, a certain aura about him that made people attracted to him and so positive. And it never ceased to amaze me the positive effect he had on so many people.”

Then perhaps one of the few who could match Warnie for charisma among cricketers, Ian Botham: “There was only ever going to be one Shane Warne. You were magnificent, on or off the field. A magnificent advert for the game of cricket. You will never be replaced, mate. Rest in peace.”

8:40pm– Singer Robbie Williams is the next to pay tribute, performing ‘Angels’.

“Before you meet him you think he’s my mate. And then when you meet him you know he’s definitely your mate.

“He was kind, charismatic, funny, charming and a gentleman. I was looking forward to spending more time with him because you seldom come across that kind of energy with people.

“Easy company, too. He was also a magician. When he was doing what he did so well, on the field of play, you thought, as the every man, that’s exactly what I would do if I was in his position. But of course you would never be in his position. We never will be, because we don’t possess that kind of talent that’s made for very few on the planet.”

8:30pm– Comedian Andy Lee speaks next with former England player Dimi Mascarenhas, AFL great Aaron Hamill, media personality Sam Newman and actor Glenn Robbins.

“I hope someone has impounded his phone. No-one can see what was on it,” Newman quips.

“We were treated to a cavalcade of incredible pictures and a round of golf in four and a half hours. Your eyes would be out like organ stock. Extraordinary. For an old pensioner like me, I tell you what, it was heart-wrenching.”

Glenn Robbins on Warnie’s appearance in Kath and Kim: “It was funny in the backyard because he played a Shane Warne impersonator – good gig.

“We had to play backyard cricket. We had to make out that he couldn’t play. The problem was even in backyard cricket, he could play it really well. And so we said, “Shane, play left-handed. That will make you look stupid.”

“He played left-handed, threw the stumps down, took every catch. Then he gave us a personal lesson on how to bowl the flipper with a tennis ball! That was magical.”

8:17pm– Football great, and one of Warnie’s heroes, Dermott Brereton, speaks next.

“On the field Shane was a brilliant cricketer but equally a brilliant bloke. He was a larrikin, a mate, a son, a brother and most importantly a father who just loved his kids.”

“The qualities that made him so loved in his personal life were the same qualities we saw on our TV sets at home… Shane Warne was an entertainer. Cricket was just really his day job.”

8:12pm- One of Warne’s favourites, Jon Stevens, with INXS’ hit ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ is next.

8:10pm- More A-List tributes for the great man, including golfing legend Greg Norman, American surfing icon Kelly Slater and singer Dannii Minogue.

8:05pm– Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, delivers a musical tribute with the song ‘Yellow’ all the way from Central America.

8pm- More former teammates, associates and celebrity friends give their tributes to Warne, including Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry, legendary media presenter Ray Martin, and James Packer.

Packer writes:

“The news of Shane Warne’s passing has shocked and confounded us all.

I’m deeply saddened and still coming to terms with it. My family were blessed to have Shane in our lives. He brought us so much warmth, happiness and joy.

Before I got to know Shane he was a dear friend of my father, Kerry, or KP as Shane called him. He adored him and loved him as a person and Shane adored Dad.

They both loved cricket, they loved to smoke and a bet as well. For Dad, one of his most touching moments was when Shane presented him with his ownbugy green cap, there’s no greater honour in Australian cricket. Friendship doesn’t get better than that.

While Shane will be remembered for his exploits, I’ll remember him as a hero, a friend, a man who was brilliant, vulnerable, lovely and fiercely loyal, I could sneak a smoke with him, listen to music and share stories, our successes and failures.”

7:53pm- Touching words from the group of legends.

Border: “It revitalised my captaincy towards the end of my time. I was lucky to have two years with Shane and just to thank him for that, just alone.”

Taylor: “A big thank you to Warnie on behalf of cricket. He made slow bowling fashionable again. He made it cool. And I think we who were lucky enough, and AB and I captained him in particular, really appreciate it because it made us better captains and better leaders.”

Merv: “Thank you for being a great mate. Basically, one of the most loyal people you know. And the people that don’t know him, think he is the way he is buzz of what he did in test cricket, but it’s the reverse. He did what he did because of the way he is. He’s a super bloke. And I feel sorry for the people around Australia that never met him.”

Hussain: “Shane, it was a privilege to be on a cricket field with you. You were the greatest bowler I ever saw. In the last 10 years, it’s been an absolute privilege to be in a commentary box with you and call you a friend. And on behalf of everyone back in England and our Sky team, Bumble and Vaughany and everyone, we love you and we’ll miss you.”

Lara: “You’re the greatest Australian that I know. And I cherish our friendship. And I’ve always been honoured to be in your presence. Thank you.”

7:50pm– Nasser Hussain speaks about facing Warne – in his words, an ‘absolute nightmare!’

On a tri-series final in 1999: “He had been sledging me all day, and he brought himself onto bowl because AB had told him 20 years earlier, if you’re struggling pick a fight with someone. He picks a fight with me.

“I sledged him for some apparent reason, and I’ve said something like, enjoy your last game as captain. Steve Waugh is back next game. You’re never going to captain Australia again! Which at the time seemed a really good thing to do. 

“Because we needed 40 off 10 overs with seven wickets in hand. I’ll be surprised if you haven’t got the footage of me running down the pitch, very next delivery after that slog sweep!

“That shot doesn’t get any better 23 years later. Stumped Gilchrist, bowled Warne. Look at the celebration. Drift in. I’m in a different postcode to that ball. Look at the celebration. How often have we seen that?”

7:45pm– Now time for Mark Taylor’s favourite Warne story.

“In the 1998 tour [of India], there was a lot of reports about Sachin Tendulkar doing a lot of work, and when I got over there I said to him [Warne], ‘Whenever it comes on out, you’re on straightaway. You are obviously who he is thinking about.

“The first game we played in Mumbai, and I think he you made about 180 and smashed Warnie all over the park but to be fair, I don’t think Shane was giving him his absolute best. We get to the first Test at Chennai and we got India 2-60, and Sachin Tendulkar comes out and I told Warnie he was up.

“The first ball went down the pitch and he hit Warnie back over their head for four, and I thought, that is not a good start! 

“And two balls later, Warnie tossed it up, as he did, higher and wider and such until Sachin went down the deck and edged it straight to me at first slip! Out for four. Me and Warnie got together and we had a high-five; we thought, we have got him. We have his number.

“Second innings comes around… And this is at Chennai. Out comes again and I said ‘right, Warnie, you are on’. First ball, back over his head and Warnie says, ‘I will go around the wicket to make it harder for him’.

“I bowled him to the foot mark outside the leg stump; the next ball went inside out over mid-off for four, and then by the third or fourth, slogged him for six.

“At the end of the over he looked at me and said ‘what do we do now?’ I said, ‘Warnie, we lose!’ 

“He made a hundred and I got one thing right – we lost!”

7:40pm– AB tells a story of a time he partnered Warnie in a round of golf against diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer.

“The challenge was put to me for a game of golf against Nicky Oppenheimer, the new CEO and and I said my partner had to be Shane Warne. The next day turns up at this beautiful golf course for this beautiful golf course with Shane Warne, and the game is going along well and then Nicky Oppenheimer says that he noticed that Shane had a little diamond stud in his ear.

“He said to have a look at that and said ‘I’m not sure if that’s a real diamond, Shane, it looks like a fake’.

“And Nicky Oppenheimer was using an old club and then Shane Warne was getting into him about using his old dad’s clubs.. it was a good day out on the golf course and the Aussies got up.

“The next morning, we were milling around in the foyer, waiting to get on the team bus and the courier arrives. I get called over to the concierge desk to be greeted with these two parcels and we were all very excited, and I rip open my package and is an envelope and there is $20,000 in this envelope – 20 Rand! And it said ‘well played yesterday and congratulations and enjoy the rest of the tour, Nicky O’.

“I thought fair enough, he paid off his golfing debt. And then Shane Warne ripped open his box and it gets a little parcel in there, and I open it up and there is this huge diamond stud hearing in this parcel, and the note said ‘now that is a real diamond!’

7:35pm- Fox Cricket’s Mark Howard is next to speak, joined on stage by Australian Test legends Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Merv Hughes, as well as England great Nasser Hussain and West Indies icon Brian Lara.

One word to sum up Warnie?

Border: ‘Genius.’

Taylor: ‘Genuine.’

Hughes: ‘Dead set bogan!’ Classic Merv.

Hussain: ‘Entertainer.’

Lara: ‘King.’

7:30pm– Seven flags are flying at the MCG tonight – one for every team Warne played with. Sandringham Junior Cricket Club, St Kilda, Victoria, Melbourne Stars, Rajasthan Royals, Hampshire, and Australia.

7:25pm– Among the farewells for Warne is a musical tribute from none other than Elton John, from the United States.

7:20pm– One Victorian legend farewells another.

Merv Hughes attends the state memorial service for former Australian cricketer Shane Warne.

Merv Hughes attends the state memorial service for former Australian cricketer Shane Warne. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

7:15pm– Shane’s father, Keith, is the first speaker of the evening.

“We thank the Australian Government and the Thai Government for their valuable assistance in bringing Shane home to us. To Tom Hall and Gareth Andrews, thank you for incredible efforts in Thailand and all you’ve done for the family and Shane.

“To the Victorian Government, Premier Daniel Andrews, the MCG Trust, the MCC, Cricket Australia, Australian Cricket Association and Cricket Victoria, thank you all for all you’ve done to make tonight a reality.”

“Looking forward to a future without Shane is inconceivable. We do take comfort in knowing that Shane packed more in his life of 52 years, five months and 19 days than most people would in two lifetimes.” Never a truer word spoken.

Keith speaks of his pride at watching his son make his Test debut, more than 30 years ago. “It felt like no time at all before we went from watching Shane play local grades of cricket with his mates, to watching him nervously walk out on to the SCG for his test debut in 1993.

“As he did, the words ‘Congratulations Shane Warne on being the 350th Australian Test cricketer’ lit up on the big screen. It then dawned on me in over 100 years of Australian cricket, there’s only ever 350 cricketers to achieve that honour.

“How proud we were. It wasn’t sunny but a few pair of sunglasses might have come out.”

“What Shane achieved was unimaginable but for his mother and I it was the things Shane did and the things he did away from the cricket field we will hold up as his finest achievements.

“He was a doting father who loved and adored his children. He was a loving and caring son and brother. He was a sports hero who happily handed out autographs and stood for photos, sometimes for hours on end.

“It was a man who would be prince or pauper and give you same undivided attention – warmth and respect. He was a person that would make everybody feel very special.”

“I remember I picked Shane up at Melbourne Airport when he arrived home after an extensive overseas test series. He asked me, “What’s been happening, Dad?” As soon as I mentioned a little boy who had terminal cancer had been hanging on, hoping to meet Shane, he had me contact the father and see if it was OK for him to pop in and say hello. 

“We got the OK and went directly to the boy’s home. Shane stayed until the lad was starting to fall asleep which was a good two hours later. Then I drove Shane home to see his own children. This is who he was. 

“This summed up Shane’s character as a man who took great responsibility in using his profile and privilege to bring good into the lives of people less fortunate than himself.”

“In Shane’s typical humble manner, Shane said of himself, “I smoked, I drank, and I played a little cricket.” Mate, your mother and I can’t imagine a life without you. You have been taken too soon and our hearts are broken. Thank you for all you did for us. And for being such a loving and caring son. Rest in peace, mate. Love you, Mum and Dad.”

7:12pm– Australian film icon Eric Bana stars in a video tribute to Warne to begin the night.

Warne speaks about his close bond with AFL and St Kilda, and his disappointment at not being able to make the grade.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t good enough [at football]. That was a tough lesson to learn that your dream was shattered. Luckily, I had a natural ability to spin the ball a long way.”

Here’s Nick Riewoldt on Fox Cricket talking about Warne’s love of the Saints.

7:10pm– Of all the tributes to Warne we’ve seen over the last few weeks, this might be the most poignant.

Artist Callum Hotham poses in front of his mural of Shane Warne. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Artist Callum Hotham poses in front of his just completed mural of Shane Warne. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

7:08pm– Eddie McGuire is the first to speak in tribute to Warnie.

“Was there anyone ever bigger than Warnie in cricket? There might have been one bloke, his name was Sir Donald Bradman.”

Fittingly, Bradman’s granddaughter, Greta, is singing the national anthem tonight.

7:05pm– A ‘Warnie, Warnie’ chant echoes around the MCG as a highlights package of his career is shown. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.

7pm– Hello and welcome to The Roar’s coverage of Shane Warne’s memorial service, as Australia says goodbye to a sporting legend.

The service begins with a minute’s silence at the MCG.

Preview

Australia says goodbye to one of its favourite sons on Wednesday evening, with Shane Warne’s memorial service at his beloved MCG. Join The Roar in farewelling a legend of cricket and the nation at large from 7pm (AEDT).

Warne’s tragic death in Thailand on Friday, March 4 (Australian time) was met with a level of despair and heartbreak not seen for an Australian athlete since the passing of Don Bradman.

A hero to many, especially in his native Victoria, Warne’s standing in the game had remained strong even more than a decade after his retirement, having worked as a commentator for Channel 9 and Fox Cricket.

But it is as a cricketer that ‘Warnie’ will be remembered most fondly: from humble beginnings as a young, unrefined leg-spinner handed a surprise Test debut in January 1992, he would soon become arguably the greatest bowler, and certainly the greatest leggie, of all time.

A career spanning 15 years, 145 Tests, 194 ODIs and more than 1000 international wickets featured plenty of highs – frequent embarrassments of old enemy England in the Ashes, a World Cup triumph and Player of the Match honours in the final, and of course, THAT ball to Mike Gatting.

There would also be plenty of lows, which seemed disastrous at the time but now only add to his legacy many years on: his infamous ban from the 2003 World Cup after taking a banned diuretic, being shockingly dropped during Australia’s 1999 tour of the West Indies, and too many off-field controversies to count. But Warne rose above them all.

More than 50,000 tickets have been sold for his memorial service: fitting for a man who was able to fill the MCG like few others.

Earlier in the month, it was announced the colosseum’s most famous stand, the Great Southern Stand, will be renamed the ‘Shane Warne Stand’, signage of which will be unveiled tonight.

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