Australian cricket legend Shane Warne remembered at the MCG for Boxing Day Test against South Africa

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It was the most emotional start to a Boxing Day Test ever seen, as fans, players and family members paid tribute to Shane Warne at the venue where he was most adored: the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Floppy hats and zinc, both synonymous with ‘Warnie’, could be seen all around the MCG, with even the broadcast teams at Channel 7 and Fox Cricket donning the thoughtful tribute items.

After Aussie skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and sent a roar around the MCG when he announced the side would bowl first, tributes flowed for Warne, who died in March earlier this year aged just 52; shocking the entire cricket world. 

A video tribute featuring the Coldplay song ‘Yellow’ played around the ground for the first Test played at Warne’s home ground since his death. Warne was very close with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. 

Shane Warne acknowledges the MCG crowd in 2006 after taking his 700th Test wicket. The Aussie legend was honoured at today’s Boxing Day Test – the first played at his home ground since his tragic death in March

Aussie star David Warner, playing in his 100th Test, and his teammates (their South African players also followed their lead) wore floppy hats in honour of Shane Warne, who favoured the wide-brimmed instead of traditional baggy green

Aussie star David Warner, playing in his 100th Test, and his teammates (their South African players also followed their lead) wore floppy hats in honour of Shane Warne, who favoured the wide-brimmed instead of traditional baggy green

Fans donned colourful shirts and floppy shirts as they paid tribute to Warnie at the Test

Fans donned colourful shirts and floppy shirts as they paid tribute to Warnie at the Test

Cricket fans line up at the MCC members section ahead of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa

Cricket fans line up at the MCC members section ahead of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa

'WARNIE 350' has been painted on the hallowed MCG turf for this Boxing Day Test in honour of the late Victorian legend and his cap number

‘WARNIE 350’ has been painted on the hallowed MCG turf for this Boxing Day Test in honour of the late Victorian legend and his cap number

Warne’s former teammate Simon Katich paid homage to one of the greatest characters, on and off the field, the game has ever seen.

‘He was true to himself. He was what he was and he didn’t try and be anyone else,’ the former Aussie opener said on Channel 7. 

‘He was also the greatest leg spinner of all time. I also loved how respectful he was of our families and the time he gave to the kids and fans of the game. 

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‘He was so generous with his time, with charity, at the ground, and also passing his knowledge on to the younger generation. So, it is special to pay tribute to him,’ said Katich. 

Shane Warne, pictured acknowledging the crowd after a thrilling Ashes Test in England during 2005, favoured the floppy hat rather than the baggy green throughout his career

Shane Warne, pictured acknowledging the crowd after a thrilling Ashes Test in England during 2005, favoured the floppy hat rather than the baggy green throughout his career

Aussie players donned white floppy hats in honour of Warne prior to the start of the Test

Aussie players donned white floppy hats in honour of Warne prior to the start of the Test

Aussie players watch the tribute to Shane Warne prior to the start of the match in front of the stand bearing his name

Aussie players watch the tribute to Shane Warne prior to the start of the match in front of the stand bearing his name

As local Indigenous elder Aunty Joy performed the customary Welcome to Country, she choked back tears as she remembered those gone far too soon.  

‘Today, we celebrate also the legendary Shane Warne. And to his family and friends, which is each and every one of you here today, what a legend,’ she said. 

‘It is a wonderful opportunity that I have to say that this always be his resting place here on Wurundjeri country. 

‘I also want to pay special tribute to our beautiful brother, Andrew Symonds, who is no longer with us, but is resting with his ancestors,’ said Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy.

Fans, pundits and former players flooded social media with tearful tributes to Warne, with many still in a state of disbelief that there was a Boxing Day Test that didn’t feature ‘Warnie’ playing or commentating.  

Adam Gilchrist, one of Warne’s close mates who commentated alongside the legend for Fox Sports after their successful careers on the field, said there will never be another ‘Warnie’. 

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‘Very few people made an impression on the game, not just the cricketing landscape, but in society around Australia like Shane Warne,’ he said on the Fox Cricket coverage. 

‘He could mix with royalty, but he could also mix with the common man and woman. Girls and boys around were inspired by his deeds.

‘His legacy will live long into the future.’

Fellow Aussie legspin great Kerry O’Keeffe echoed Gilchrist’s sentiments, and explain just why the larrikin was so well loved by adoring MCG crowds. 

Fans mill around the Shane Warne statue out the front of the MCG just prior to the match

Fans mill around the Shane Warne statue out the front of the MCG just prior to the match

It was all about national pride and floppy hats for many fans at the MCG for the Test

It was all about national pride and floppy hats for many fans at the MCG for the Test

This group of fashionable fans opted for a colourful shirt-shorts pineapple combo and are no doubt ready for a huge day of Boxing Day cricket!

This group of fashionable fans opted for a colourful shirt-shorts pineapple combo and are no doubt ready for a huge day of Boxing Day cricket!

‘If you try and analyse why this MCG crowd loved him so much, I think it was because he was out there dealing out his sorcery against the best international batsmen, yet those in the outer thought he could be sitting alongside them, chewing on a burger and out the back having a cheeky ciggy,’ he said.

‘That’s why they related – that one of theirs was out there. They responded with so much love for him.’

Warne’s brother Jason had earlier told how the pair first went to the famed MCG for a Test, the Ashes no less, in 1982 and said to see his name now on a stand at the stadium was special. 

‘It’s pretty cool having his stand here,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

‘Now it’s getting to that stage where it’s more about celebrating him and remembering all the good parts of him.’ 

Jason Warne (right, pictured with brother Shane and Aussie music icon Molly Meldrum) said for he and the family it was now about remembering all of the good things about 'Warnie'

Jason Warne (right, pictured with brother Shane and Aussie music icon Molly Meldrum) said for he and the family it was now about remembering all of the good things about ‘Warnie’

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Shane Warne leaves the Melbourne Cricket Ground turf in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans after taking his 700th wicket against England in 2006. He retired the following Test

Shane Warne leaves the Melbourne Cricket Ground turf in front of tens of thousands of adoring fans after taking his 700th wicket against England in 2006. He retired the following Test

Earlier, Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who is nicknamed the ‘GOAT’ – which stands for Greatest of All-Time – spoke about his embarrassment over his nickname, and how special it will be to honour the man he replaced in the baggy green.

‘I’ve got the nickname of the GOAT, which is a bit ridiculous. That’s Shane. He is the greatest,’ he told News Corp.

‘It’s going to be a very emotional Test for everyone. It’s going to be very special that this is going to be the first Test since his passing at his home ground.

‘For us to be out in the middle with everyone else who is honouring Shane Warne, it’s going to be special. 

‘Warnie was obviously the biggest (influence) you could ever imagine. Especially as a young kid growing up in Australia, all I wanted to do was be like Shane Warne,’ said Lyon, who was often mentored by Warne. 

Shane Warne (left) gives some tips to Nathan Lyon (back to camera) ahead of a 2013 Ashes Test in England. Lyon has spoken several times since the tragic death how much Warne had influenced his career

Shane Warne (left) gives some tips to Nathan Lyon (back to camera) ahead of a 2013 Ashes Test in England. Lyon has spoken several times since the tragic death how much Warne had influenced his career

Shane Warne left behind three children (L-R): Jackson, Summer and Brooke, when he tragically died earlier this year aged just 52

Shane Warne left behind three children (L-R): Jackson, Summer and Brooke, when he tragically died earlier this year aged just 52

Warne died from a massive heart attack aged just 52 while holidaying in Koh Samui, Thailand, on March 4, leaving the cricket world in shock.

The 145-Test veteran took 708 wickets and transformed leg-spinning in a way no one before him had – and was a figure than almost transcended the game. 

Warne left behind three children – Brooke, Summer and Jackson – and Australian cricket will never be the same without him. 



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