Following the tragic death of Australian cricket icon Shane Warne at the age of 52, the Great Southern Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be renamed the SK Warne stand in perpetuity.
On Friday, Warne died unexpectedly while on vacation in Thailand, prompting a worldwide outpouring of condolences and sadness. Warne was in Koh Samui, Thailand before he succumbed to the suspected massive heart attack and was found in an unresponsive state at his villa. Despite the efforts put in by the medical team, the Australian legend was declared dead.
Fans gathered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, where the spin legend had clinched his 700th Test wicket, and paid tribute to with flowers, beers, cricket balls, and pies where a statue honouring Warne stands, as Australia awakened to the news on Saturday.
Martin Pakula, Victoria’s minister for tourism and sport, said that he had talked with Victoria premier Daniel Andrews, MCC Trust chairman Steve Bracks, and MCC CEO Stuart Fox and that they had decided to rename the Southern Stand in Warne’s honour.
“We will be renaming the Great Southern Stand the S.K. Warne stand and we’ll be doing that as soon as we possibly can,” Pakula said. “I can think of no finer tribute to the greatest cricketer this state has produced than to rename the stand the S.K. Warne stand and no matter whatever happens to that stand in the future whether it’s rebuilt, refurbished, renovated, it will remain the S.K. Warne stands in perpetuity because his legend will live in perpetuity.”
Cricket Victoria is also considering ways to pay tribute to Warne since there were plans to rename a stand at the Junction Oval in his honour previous to his death.
Premier Andrews and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison have also reached out to the Warne family to offer a state funeral, but the family has been given time to decide.
Dr Lachlan Henderson, the chairman of Cricket Australia, revealed that he had talked to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about Shane Warne on Saturday and that renaming the Southern Stand at the MCG was a worthy tribute.
“That would seem a very appropriate acknowledgement of Shane Warne,” Henderson said. “He’s been an icon of the game, obviously with St Kilda Cricket Club, Victoria, our Australian team for so many years. He also played cricket all around the world. So it’s a very fitting tribute.
“Right here this morning, driving past a junior cricket ground in Victoria, I saw a young leg-spin bowler bowl a beautifully flighted ball that beat the bat and I’m sure someone was looking down on that young bowler as he embarks on his career.”
Over the course of a 15-year career, he appeared in 145 Tests, capturing 708 wickets and proving to be a solid lower-order batsman with a top Test score of 99.
In addition to his international success, Warne had a good career with Victoria, his Australian state team, and Hampshire, his English county team.
In honour of Warne and Rod Marsh, who both died on Friday, the Australian women’s team donned two black armbands and held a minute’s tribute before their Women’s World Cup opener against England in New Zealand. In honour of both men, England donned a black armband.
Henderson confirmed that Australia’s men’s squad, who wore a black armband and held a minute’s silence in remembrance of Marsh before day one of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi on Friday, will do the same for Warne ahead of day two on Saturday.