Michael Clarke has spoken at length for the first time on the shock death of Shane Warne, remembering his great mate as one of the most fiercely loyal people he’d ever met.
Clarke and Warne’s Test careers intersected between 2003 and 2007. They initially bonded of their love of fast cars and forged a friendship that remained strong right up until Warne’s death aged 52 on Friday.
Clarke posted a tribute to Warne on social media over the weekend but opened up on his “complete shock” when he returned to his role as Big Sports Breakfast host on Monday morning.
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“I think the hardest thing to comprehend is how quickly it’s happened,” Clarke said on the program.
“He was reasonably fit, Warnie, he went through stages where he’d put a bit of weight on, lose a bit of weight but generally for 52 years of age he was in pretty good nick.”
Clarke revealed a touching story about how Warne and then partner Liz Hurley flew back from Australia in 2012 to attend an intimate wedding with Clarke’s former wife Kyly — even though Warne only thought it was for a birthday party.
“ I’m very lucky to have some wonderful people in my life, family and friends but Warney was as loyal as anyone,” Clarke said.
“I’ll never forget, my wedding …. we didn’t tell anybody because of the media .. my ex-wife Kyly, we only invited 30 of our closest family and friends and she told everyone it was my birthday.
“Warney was engaged in London at the time to Elizabeth Hurley and was working over there. I said to Kyly at the time ‘for some people, you can’t tell them it’s my birthday. They’re not going to come. Even if you told Warney it was my wedding, still I don’t expect him to come, he’s over there working. He can’t get time off work, he’s just got engaged, he’s not going to come.’
“Mate, he came. Him and Elizabeth get on a plane, thinking it’s my birthday party, and he still came.
“That to me just sums up what he was like to his closest friends. It was only a small group — (he had) a million acquaintances — but only a handful of close friends and he would give anything to them, the shirt off his back. He was that loyal and I loved that most about him.”
Clarke and Warne in 2017.Source: AAP
Clarke regards Warne as the greatest player he ever played with or against, both for his knowledge of the game and his remarkable control with the ball.
“He was just a freak in knowing the line, knowing the length but the accuracy was the one thing (that set him apart),” Clarke said.
“Stuart McGill spun the ball as big as anyone. He didn’t have the accuracy that Warney had.
“Warney was Glenn McGrath as a spinner, he could put it on a 20 cent piece, ball after ball after ball. phenomenal.”