Shane Warne’s manager James Erskine has given an insight into his client and friend’s final moments as he paid tribute to the life of one of the greatest cricketers ever.
Warne passed away at the age of 52 after suffering a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Thailand and Erskine was the man that had to tell Warne’s family the terrible news.
“I got a phone call at 10:37 last night from our guy Andrew Neophitou in Thailand,” Erskine said on Fox Cricket’s Shane Warne tribute special.
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“Shane decided that he was going to have three months off. In fact he wanted a year off and I said there was no way you can have a year off they will have forgotten you by a year.
“I said you can have three months off and this was just the start of it. He only arrived the night before. Then suddenly . . . they were going to have a drink at 5 and Neo (Neophitou) knocked on his door at 5:15 because Warnie was always on time.
“What happened was he went in there and said come on you are going to be late and then realised that something was wrong.
“He turned him over and gave him CPR. That lasted about 20 minutes then obviously the ambulance came. They took him to the hospital which was about a 20 minute drive.
“I got a phone call about 45 minutes later saying that he was pronounced dead.”
Erskine was given the unenviable task of telling Warne’s family the terrible and tragic news that their son and father had passed away.
“It is like all these things you work on adrenaline,” Erskine said.
“You are not much help to anyone if you are a blubbering mess. I’m very lucky my mind works clinically.
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“I was talking to Keith last night when his son was dead. He was going to go and see the three children and talking to Brooke and to Jackson I was not going to tell them that their father was dead because he wasn’t at that stage pronounced dead. But I said it looks pretty grim.
“Simone (Warne’s ex-wife and mother of his three children) had gone to pick up the youngest child Summer and we then called Simone and said, listen you better tell them when you are all together that Shane has passed away.”
Warne was a giant of the sport and a larger than life character, which is why it is so hard to believe he is gone, according to Erskine.
“It is one of these things that when someone is larger than life you don’t expect them to die,” Erskine said.
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“I think that is probably a very good analogy. You don’t expect someone to die at 52. You don’t expect Shane Warne to die because he was an extraordinary human being.”
Warne was a polarising cricketer and commentator, but it was his ability to call a spade a spade that made him so respected according to Erskine.
“He had a huge regard for you Mark Taylor,” Erskine explained.
“He would often say how marvellous you were and what a great captain you were.
“We lived through the cricket wars in 1990’s and going back through all those things. Shane was interesting because although he was very opinionated and for Shane there was black and white.
“Like most of us know there are a thousand shades of grey in the middle, but there wasn’t for Shane. He was very black and white and that was part of his success.
“But at the end of the day he could have an opinion and criticise something. Mitchell Starc right now if he is listening to this. He basically gave you some curry before the last Ashes Test and that was his opinion.
“I actually said to him well you were wrong about Mitchell Starc and he said well you know what I probably was, but I think I probably helped him get better.
“It is sort of interesting that is the way his mind works.
“I just think he is an extraordinary bloke. With all the fame and you have done such a wonderful tribute on Fox Cricket. I have been watching a lot of it and it is quite extraordinary.
“But the great thing about Shane Warne is he could talk to the Queen of England and a dustbin man exactly the same way. That was his great ability. And in fact I could almost say that he could convince the Queen to take out his dustbins. He was that sort of character.”
Erskine also produced a lovely anecdote from when he was in Italy, which summed up Warne’s global reach.
“He loved children,” Erskine said.
“I was in Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. There was a little boy called Oscar who was about eight years old and I was having a beer with his parents who I had never met and they just happened to be there.
“He told me he was a leg-spinner. I said well have you ever met Shane Warne and he said no, but he is my hero. So I picked up my phone and the time difference was 10 hours ahead in Australia.
“Shane Warne picked up the phone and I said I have an eight-year-old fan in the town in Positano will you have a chat to him? And so he did.
“This guy was a very confident eight-year-old and he knew all the stats. He could tell you how many runs Mark Taylor made. It was quite extraordinary.
“Shane said get your father to film you bowling from side on and the back and I’ll critique you and see if we can make you get in the first XI. That’s the sort of guy he was.”