A man lays flowers at a statue of Shane Warne outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Thai police on Saturday said foul play was not suspected in the shock death of Australian cricket superstar Shane Warne, who died of a suspected heart attack while on holiday on the paradise island of Koh Samui aged just 52.
Police said late Saturday he would be flown from Koh Samui to nearby Surat Thani on Sunday for an autopsy, before being transported home to Australia.
Warne — one of the greatest Test cricketers of all time — was found unresponsive in his luxury villa at the Samujana resort on Friday evening after failing to meet friends.
His body was brought to the Thai International Hospital Samui at about 6:00 pm (1100 GMT).
At an evening press conference, local police chief Yutthana Sirisombat said relatives had “already coordinated with the Australian Embassy so that right after the autopsy’s finished, they will take his body back to Australia”.
Sirisombat also said “no drug substance was detected in Warne’s body,” without giving further details.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Warne “one of our nation’s greatest characters” and announced he would receive a full state funeral.
Speaking outside the police station on Koh Samui, Andrew Neophitou, a close friend of Warne, said: “We really just want to get Shane home, that’s all it is.”
Credited with reviving the art of leg-spin, Warne was part of a dominant Australian Test team in the 1990s and 2000s and helped his country win the 1999 limited-overs World Cup.
Australian captain Pat Cummins said he was “a hero” to the current generation of cricketers.
Warne’s inestimable impact was reflected by his inclusion in a list of the Wisden Cricketers of the 20th Century, alongside Don Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Viv Richards.
The first bowler to take 700 Test wickets with an assortment of leg-breaks, googlies, flippers and his own “zooters”, Warne retired from Australia duty in 2007 following a 5-0 series win at home to arch-rivals England.
– ‘An honour’ –
He subsequently became a highly regarded television commentator and pundit, renowned for his forthright opinions, and was involved with coaching, working individually with current-day leg-spinners.
India batting great Sachin Tendulkar wrote on Twitter of his ex-rival: “Shocked, stunned & miserable… Will miss you Warnie. There was never a dull moment with you around.”
Warne’s death also saw tributes from Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, superstar singer Ed Sheeran as well as Australian Hollywood royalty Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.
Originally published as Foul play not suspected as Shane Warne dies aged 52