Shane Warne's body on flight to Australia

Shane Warne's body on flight to Australia

State funeral for cricket great

A private jet, carrying the coffin of Australian cricket player Shane Warne, departs from Don Mueang airport on Thursday on its way back to Australia after the cricketer died on Koh Samui on Friday. (AFP photo)
A private jet, carrying the coffin of Australian cricket player Shane Warne, departs from Don Mueang airport on Thursday on its way back to Australia after the cricketer died on Koh Samui on Friday. (AFP photo)

The body of Shane Warne left Thailand early on Thursday, flying back to Australia where the cricket superstar will receive a state funeral.

Wrapped in the Australian flag, the coffin of the 52-year-old -- who died on Koh Samui on Friday -- left Don Mueang airport at 8.24 am on a private plane, an airport official confirmed.

Autopsy results confirmed that the leg-spin bowler, one of the greatest Test cricketers of all time, died of natural causes after a suspected heart attack.

Warne "didn't just inspire a cricketing generation -- he defined it," said a statement by the Victoria government announcing the state funeral would be held on March 30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Warne was discovered late Friday at a luxury villa on Koh Samui where he was on holiday, after failing to meet friends that evening.

He was taken to the Thai International Hospital Samui but despite medical efforts he could not be revived.

On Monday, police said an autopsy had found "the death was due to natural causes".

Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, assistant to the national police chief, added that Warne's father said the player "had been suffering chest pains and was planning to return home for a check-up after this trip".

In their first public comments since the death on Friday, Warne's parents, brother, children and ex-wife expressed deep sorrow, paying tribute to one of the greatest Test cricketers of all time and the man they loved.

"To find words to adequately express our sadness is an impossible task for us and looking to a future without Shane is inconceivable," parents Keith and Brigitte Warne said in a statement.

"I miss you so much already," said daughter Summer Warne. "I wish I could've hugged you tighter in what I didn't know were my final moments with you."

"I wish I could've told you that everything was going to be OK and hold your hand."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison led tributes to one of the country's "greatest characters".

Over the weekend fans paid homage to Warne at his statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground -- including offerings of cigarettes, beer and meat pies -- to remember an extraordinary cricketing talent with a huge appetite for life.

Credited with reviving the art of leg-spin, Warne was part of a dominant Australian Test team in the 1990s and 2000s and helped his country win the 1999 limited-overs World Cup.

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