Hollywood A-listers, cricket legends, family and friends have paid tribute to Shane Warne with heartfelt video messages and speeches.
A crowd of more than 50,000 has gathered at the MCG to farewell cricket legend Shane Warne, with Hollywood A-listers, cricket legends, family and friends paying tribute to the King of Spin.
There’s been an outpouring of grief since Warne died after suffering a heart attack aged 52 in Thailand earlier this month, but the focus of his public memorial will be on celebrating a life most could only dream of.
Eddie McGuire served as master of ceremonies, with Greta Bradman, the granddaughter of cricket icon Sir Donald Bradman, singing the national anthem.
Warne’s three children — Brooke, Jackson and Summer — brought the entire country to tears with their heartfelt tributes.
To conclude the evening, the MCG’s Great Southern Stand was officially renamed the Shane Warne Stand.
Warne’s children break down in emotional tributes
The three children of Shane Warne have paid tribute to their dad, speaking through tears to honour their idol.
Summer started: “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 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.
“I really am going to miss you Dad. It has been exactly 26 days since you went to heaven and I miss you more than anything in the whole world.
“I would do anything just to have one more you have your cuddles and to hear your voice tell me how proud of me you were and how much you loved me.
“I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to walk down the aisle on my special day. You’re not going to meet your grandchildren that you’re going to have some day, but instead you will be someone I will tell my kids about and how much of an amazing father you were to me. How good of a you would have made and how they would have loved and adored you just like I do.
“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.”
Jackson continued: “You were the best Dad anyone could have asked for and you were my best friend.
“Time with you went way too fast. It feels just like yesterday that we were looking at each others cards playing poker, eating pizza while watching the Saints.
“You were so proud of me. Although I didn’t go down the cricket path, you didn’t mind. You just wanted the best for me.”
Brooke finished: “I will miss grabbing your big wrists and feeling your hands and saying that I have big fat fingers just like you. I will miss our chats just about how big our double chins are and how big our bellies are looking especially after we’ve just eaten our body weight in cheese, pizza and pasta.
“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. I could go on forever about what we’re going to miss out on, but nothing would be more upsetting about how much I already miss you.
“But what makes me the saddest is, I will never get to wrap my arms around you and give you the biggest hug and rest my chin on your chest. Dad was our shining star in life and now he’s shining down on all of us. We will do you so proud, Dad.”
Following a powerful performance from Australian singer Anthony Callea, the MCG’s Great Southern Stand was officially renamed the Shane Warne Stand.
It only seemed apt that his three children were honoured with the task of unveiling the sign.
Warne’s brother pays tribute
Jason Warne has remembered his brother with a heartfelt speech, recalling what the leg-spinner meant to him.
“The impact my brother had during his remarkable life, it’s always been really difficult to comprehend,” he started.
“Although the last few weeks and the tributes and tonight has brought it all into sharp focus. 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 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.
“The bonds created through sport last a lifetime. The bonds of brothers lasts a lifetime. I’m very into have shared both of these bonds.”
Afterwards, music superstar Ed Sheeran performed smash hit “Thinking Out Loud” in a video tribute.
A trio of cricket greats then paid tribute to Warne with video messages, including former Australian captain Michael Clarke and Pakistan’s Wasim Akram.
The Little Master speaks
Indian great Sachin Tendulkar, one of Shane Warne’s biggest rivals on the cricket field, sent in a video message for the memorial service.
“Warnie, I remember was always extremely competitive and everything possible to disturb opposition, to dismiss them, he would do,” Tendulkar said.
“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.”
Rock music fills the MCG
Music legend Jon Stevens performed a series of Warne’s favourite songs from the eighties accompanied by a rock band at the MCG.
After a powerful rendition of INXS hit “Never Tear Us Apart”, Stevens belted out “Take Me Back” by Noiseworks.
Following the performance, a panel of close friends recalled what Warne was like as a person off the field.
Dimitri Mascarenhas, Aaron Hamill, Glenn Robbins and Sam Newman discussed their memories on the golf course with Warne.
Soon after, pop icon Robbie Williams performed a rendition of 1997 hit song “Angels”, accompanied by a keyboard in a candlelit room.
“He dismantled England too many times, Williams said.
“Everybody on the planet who have seen him play and experienced Warnie being Warnie, thinks he’s one of us. Very few people on the planet can do that. And he’s one of them. A very special man. Very special talent.”
Coldplay singer pays tribute
Chris Martin, the voice of Coldplay and close mate of Warne, penned and performed a piece which was played at the MCG via video.
The piece was simply titled “Eulogy”.
It featured Martin on piano, accompanied by strings and horns.
The British star then performed Coldplay’s 2000 hit “Yellow” from South America, strumming on an acoustic guitar.
Australian golf icon Greg Norman then paid tribute to Warne with a video message: “Your passion, your energy and enthusiasm for life was second to none. I loved our conversations, as few as they were, but I loved them.
“Rest in peace, Warnie, you are one of the best human beings I have ever met.”
Actress Dannii Minogue and surfing icon Kelly Slater also shared videos honouring the cricketer.
‘Way too soon’: James Packer’s message
Master of ceremonies Eddie McGuire read out a message from close friend James Packer and his family.
“The news of Shane Warne’s passing has shocked and confounded us all,” the letter started.
“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.
“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. He was wickedly funny, cheerful and fearless he was so very human. I’ll miss those hugs forever.
“Shane brightened the world and brought joy to so many. Today we celebrate his life and ponder why the universe took him from us so soon. My deepest condolences to the Warne family. Rest in peace, my friend. We have lost your sunshine way too soon.”
Cricket panel remember teammate, rival
A panel comprised of former cricketers Allan Border, Mark Taylor, Marv Hughes, Nasser Hussain and Brian Lara remember the legend, Shane Warne.
The quintet were asked to describe Warne is one word. Their responses were telling.
Hughes: Dead-set bogan
“I had no delight in playing against Shane Warne,” Hussain laughed.
“The word I should have used was nightmare when you went round, actually. He was the king bowler, the great bowler but the great sledger.
“You were the best bowler I ever saw.”
Hughes continued: “He was fantastic, a very loyal friend. As good as he was in the cricket field, he was five times better off it.”
Celebrities pay tribute to Warne
Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackson and Elton John have each paid tribute to the cricket icon with video messages.
Hugh Jackman said: “Today we mourn not only in Australia but all over the world an incredible life and achievements of Shane Warne. But we also celebrate because Warnie, yes, one of the greatest cricketers to ever play the game, somehow as a human being reminded us to make the most of every single second. Man, he sucked the marrow out of life. He was a great teammate. He loved the game of cricket. He loved his friends and family. He loved life. There was no-one like you, Warnie and never will be again. We will miss you.”
John performed an emotional rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” from the United States.
Warne’s father speaks
Shane Warne’s father, Keith, was the first speaker at the MCG.
“Friday March 4, 2022, darkest day in our family’s life,” he started.
“It was a day that our son, Shane Keith Warne, was tragically and suddenly taken from us. Our family loss of a loved son, a loving brother to Jason and a devoted father to Brooke, Jackson and Summer. And the world lost a much-loved cricketing legend whose feats on and off the cricket field will go down in history for all time.
“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.
“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.”
Memorial service underway
Shane Warne’s memorial service started with a minute’s silence, followed by a quick video tribute and the Welcome To Country, performed by Wurundjeri Elder.
Greta Bradman, the granddaughter of cricket icon Sir Donald Bradman, sang an a cappella rendition of the Australian national anthem.
Light boos were heard at the MCG when master of ceremonies Eddie McGuire welcomed Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Australian actor Eric Bana then paid tribute to Warne in a video tribute: “He mesmerised fans as he did the best batsmen in the world. Kids in dusty laneways and backyards wanted to be just like Warnie.”
Cricket icons arrive at the MCG
Former teammates and opponents have arrived at the MCG ahead of Shane Warne’s public memorial.
Along with the cricket icons, several high-profile celebrities are expected to attend, including Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, James Packer, Eric Bana, Greg Norman and Kelly Slater.
Warne realisation hits home for Eddie
Shane Warne’s son Jackson said there is no better place to bid farewell to his late father than the MCG, where his memorial will be beamed live to cricket grounds around the country and watched by millions in Australia and around the world.
Jackson said there was “no other better place in the whole world” to hold the memorial than the MCG, where Warne created so many memories, including his Ashes hat-trick and 700th Test wicket.
“It’s very special for a lot of us, especially our family,” Jackson said.
“We’ve been lucky enough to come here (to the MCG) our whole lives and watch him play and put lots of hard work in on this very ground.
“Dad always loved a crowd, putting on a performance … I think, sad day as it is, with more people here it won’t be as sad.”
The Warne family has encouraged those attending to wear cricket gear — be it their own club whites, Australian jerseys or the leg-spin legend’s famous No. 23 jersey.
Warne’s close friend Eddie McGuire said the cricket great’s loss really hit home while conducting a dress rehearsal on Tuesday night.
“There were a couple of times where a bit of video went up and it suddenly hit me right between the eyes,” McGuire told The Today Show.
“You get into the mode of talking about these things and the family have given so much of themselves and suddenly it hits and you go, ‘He’s gone’.”
The Great Southern Stand at the MCG will be named after Warne, with new signage to be unveiled this evening.
Warne’s father Keith and kids Jackson, Summer and Brooke will all speak at the memorial.
“It’s what he would’ve wanted, to make sure everybody who can be involved is involved and we’ve been very fortunate to have a state funeral to allow us to do that,” Keith said.
Music stars Elton John, Chris Martin, Robbie Williams and Sheeran will sing “dedicated songs” to Warne, said McGuire. Martin — a great mate of Warne — wrote a song especially for the occasion, called “The Eulogy”, which will be played tonight.
Those musical icons are expected to appear by video link, as are Hollywood stars Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.
Cricketing greats such as Brian Lara, Ian Botham and Wasim Akram will be among an array of sports stars joining the service.
Warne’s former fiancee, British actress Liz Hurley, won’t attend the MCG but will feature in the service.
Order of service
Welcome to Country — Wurundjeri Elder
Master of Ceremonies — Mr Eddie McGuire
Australian National Anthem — Ms Greta Bradman
Family Tribute — Mr Keith Warne
Panel hosted by Mr Mark Howard
Mr Mark Taylor AO, Mr Allan Border AO,
Mr Merv Hughes, Mr Nasser Hussain OBE and
Mr Brian Lara TC OCC AM
Reflection — Ms Andrea Egan
Performance — Mr Jon Stevens
Panel hosted by Mr Andy Lee
Mr Dimitri Mascarenhas, Mr Aaron Hamill,
Mr Glenn Robbins and Mr Sam Newman
Mr Jason Warne, Ms Summer Warne,
Mr Jackson Warne and Ms Brooke Warne
Mr Anthony Callea