Rajasthan Royals wear special ‘SW23’ jersey in memory of Warne

Rajasthan Royals Trent Boult celebrates the dismissal of Mumbai Indians Ishan Kishan during the Indian Premier League 2022 cricket match between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai on 30 April 2022ANI

Players of Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals on Saturday wore special jerseys to celebrate the life of their first captain and late Australian hero Shane Warne.

Royals, who won the inaugural IPL title under Warne, came out with ‘SW23’ -- Warne’s shirt number -- on their collars in the match against Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium.

The spin legend’s death from a suspected heart attack aged 52 on 4 March shocked the cricketing world, with Royals saying he “made us believe”.

Players from both teams stood in line with the umpires at the start of the game for a minute’s applause to celebrate the illustrious career of Warne - the “first Royal” as the team call him.

The victory for the Royals in 2008 not only lit up the Twenty20 tournament but also turned several rookie Indian cricketers including Ravindra Jadeja and Yusuf Pathan into popular names.

The Royals, now led by Sanju Samson, have not won again in the 13 subsequent seasons and paid an emotional tribute to the spin legend as players including Jos Buttler entered the stadium by high-fiving a life-size picture of Warne.

Buttler, who leads the tournament batting chart with 566 runs including three centuries, later held up his collar en route to his 67 as big banners including “this one’s for you Warnie” hung from the balconies of the stadium.

Royals beat Chennai Super Kings at the same venue on 1 June, 2008, and set the stage for the league to become one of the sport’s most popular and valuable tournaments.

Warne, who revived the art of leg spin and took 708 Test wickets in his glittering but controversial career, was often called “the best captain Australia never had”.

He captained Australian state side Victoria and the English county Hampshire.