Hollywood A-listers Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackson and Elton John has paid tribute to cricket icon Shane Warne with heartfelt video messages.
A crowd of more than 50,000 will gather at the MCG tonight to farewell cricket legend Shane Warne.
There’s been an outpouring of grief since the Spin King 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 will act as master of ceremonies and details have started to filter out about what we can expect from tonight’s event, such as who will perform and what tributes will take place.
Greta Bradman, the granddaughter of cricket icon Sir Donald Bradman, will sing the national anthem.
The memorial is scheduled to start at 7pm (AEDT). It will be broadcast live on Fox Cricket and every major Australian TV network.
Celebrities pay tribute to Warne
Kylie Minogue, Hugh Jackson and Elton John has 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
Originally published as Live: Celebrities pay tribute to cricket icon Shane Warne