Warne, who was named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century, claimed 708 Test wickets in a 15-year career for Australia between 1992 and 2007, and was also a World Cup winner in 1999.
According to a brief statement given to Fox News by Warne’s management, he passed away in Thailand of a suspected heart attack.
“Shane was found unresponsive in his villa and despite the best efforts of medical staff, he could not be revived,” the statement read.
“The family requests privacy at this time and will provide further details in due course.”
The shocking news comes hours after the death of another icon of Australian cricket, former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh, who also suffered a heart attack earlier this week at the age of 74.
“Warney”, as he was known throughout the cricketing world, was without question one of the true icons of world cricket, a man who almost singlehandedly revived the art of legspin in the early 1990s.
Although luminaries such as Pakistan’s Abdul Qadir had kept the art alive, Warne brought a new glamour and attacking intent to legspin, with his bottle-blond hair allied to a keen tactical brain that he used to outfox a host of unwitting opponents in his pomp.
After an underwhelming debut against India in 1991-92, where his solitary wicket came at a cost of 150 runs, Warne hinted at his full potential in bowling Australia to an unlikely victory over Sri Lanka in Morutuwa, before – in his fifth appearance – he ripped out seven match-winning wickets against West Indies at his home ground of Melbourne in the 1992-93 Boxing Day Test.
However, it was the 1993 Ashes tour that truly cemented Warne’s legend. In the opening match of the series at Old Trafford, and having been shielded from England’s batters during the preceding one-day series, Warne’s first delivery left the sport dumbfounded as he served up the so-called “ball of the century” to Mike Gatting – a drifting, dipping, spitting legbreak, that turned a full two feet from outside leg to hit the top of off.
Gatting was so confused, he did not initially realise he had been bowled – and in that moment, Warne exerted a hold over England’s batters that was so absolute, they would not come close to reclaiming the Ashes for another 12 years. And even when they did, in the seismic summer of 2005, Warne’s fingers were the last to be prised from the urn, as he carried Australia’s attack with a career-best haul of 40 wickets