Indigenous elder Aunty Joy Wandin Murphy has delivered a stirring Welcome to Country ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, moving many fans with a tribute to the late Shane Warne. Tribute was also paid to Andrew Symonds, who tragically died in a car accident earlier in 2022 as well.
It’s an emotional day for Australian cricket, with the first Test to be played at Warne’s home ground since his death from a heart attack back in March, aged 52. A visibly emotional Aunty Joy teared up during her Welcome to Country, which was punctuated by a supportive round of applause from the MCG crowd.
“I want to pay a special tribute to our beautiful brother Andrew Symonds, who is no longer with us but is resting with his ancestors,” she began. “Today we celebrate the legendary Shane Warne. To his family and friends of him, which is each and every one of you here today, what a legend.
“It is a wonderful opportunity it is that I have to say that this will always be his resting place here on Wurundjeri country.”
Symonds’ death came mere months after Warne’s, leaving Australian fans mourning two iconic players in the space of as many months. Many fans found Aunty Joy’s speech to be a fitting tribute to both players, many expressing their gratitude on social media.
A video tribute to Warne was played prior to the start of the match, with another tribute to come at 3:50pm, with 350 having been Warne’s playing number for Australia. That same number has also been painted on the MCG outfield in honor of Australia’s greatest wicket-taker.
Fans have been encouraged to wear a floppy hat and slap on some of Warne’s trademark zinc cream when attending the second Test of the series. CA chief executive Nick Hockley said last week: “Shane is an icon to cricket fans globally for the greatness of his cricketing achievements, his charisma and his infectious enthusiasm for the game.
“His place as a legend of Australian and world sport is assured. Whilst we continue to mourn his passing, it is fitting that we honor Shane at his beloved Boxing Day Test at the MCG. I know I speak for the whole cricket community in saying that our thoughts continue to be with Shane’s family and friends and particularly his children Brooke, Jackson and Summer.”
Last week Warne was honored by the Melbourne Stars – his former Big Bash League team – during a match at the MCG. A memorial service held at the ground in March was attended by more than 50,000 people.
Nathan Lyon’s stirring reflection on Shane Warne’s legacy
Despite affirming his status as one of Australia’s premier spin bowlers in his own right, off-spinner Nathan Lyon said there would only ever be on ‘King of Spin’. “I’ve got the nickname of the GOAT, which is a bit ridiculous,” he said.
“That’s Shane. He is the greatest. 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 di lui at his home ground. For us to be out in the middle with everyone else who is honoring Shane Warne, it’s going to be special.”
Lyon said much of Warne’s legacy was his ability to inspire young players to test out their own ability to spin the ball, a legacy he hoped to continue. He recalled how Warne had counseled him on day four of the first Ashes Test against England back in 2019, demonstrating how to use his spin to ‘control the tempo’ of an innings – with Lyon going on to take six wickets in an Australian victory.
“It’s all about trying to keep the legacy alive I guess,” Lyon said. “I think it’s a massive role and massive opportunity for myself to keep the spin culture alive and well inside Australian cricket.
“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. If I can keep that dream going for a lot of kids, boys and girls out there in Australian cricket, then I’m doing my role.”
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