The body of Shane Warne has been returned to his family in Melbourne from Thailand where the Australian cricket great died a week ago.
Warne died while on holiday on the Thai island of Koh Samui on Friday, March 4. Local authorities said an autopsy showed that the 52-year-old’s death was caused by a suspected heart attack and congenital disease.
On Thursday morning, his coffin, wrapped in the Australian flag, was taken from the morgue to Bangkok airport before being loaded onto a private Dassault Falcon 7X jet for the eight-hour flight home.
The popular former spin-bowler and media personality will be buried at a private funeral, his family said last week.
A state memorial service will follow at the 100,000-seater Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on March 30.
Dan Andrews, the Premier of the state of Victoria, said the evening service would be free and a large turnout could be expected.
“There will be no limits on crowds and that sort of stuff,” he said.
“It will be a very big event. It will be a celebration of his life as it should be.”
Warne took his 700th test wicket in front of a crowd of 89,155 at the MCG during the fourth Ashes test against England on Boxing Day in 2006. The Great Southern Stand at the stadium will soon be renamed in his honour.
A statue of Warne outside the cavernous arena has become an impromptu shrine to the leg-spinner, who was popular as much for his effervescent and grounded personality as his all but peerless skill with the cricket ball.
Tributes from across the world have continued to pour in for Warne since his death, both from fellow cricketing greats and the likes of rock star Mick Jagger and Oscar winner Russell Crowe.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Warne “one of our nation’s greatest characters”.