This summer’s upcoming Boxing Day Test match is set to be a poignant one as it is the first at the MCG without the cricket icon, Shane Warne.
The “King of Spin” left the sporting world in shock after his tragic passing in March at the age of 52.
Now the MCG, where Warne achieved a career highlight with his 700th Test wicket in the 2006 Ashes Test, has scheduled a number of tributes for the Victorian sporting legend ahead of the second Test against South Africa.
To mark the occasion, fans attending the live sporting event have been encouraged to wear floppy hats and swipe streaks of white zinc sunscreen on their cheeks like Warne himself used to do.
Australian and South African teams will also wear Warne’s iconic wide-brim floppy hat at the ceremony which will recognise the influence of the MCG in his life and career.
Then at 3.50 pm, the game will come to a halt to allow the crowd to rise to their feet to recognise Warne’s achievements as images of the sporting legend will appear on the big screen, highlighting his outstanding career.
The legend’s own floppy had and a ball will also stay at the entrance of the team’s path to the ceremony. His Test cap number, 350, will also be painted on the turf square and will remain there throughout the match.
Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley says it’s only proper for fans and players to remember Warne 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,” he said, adding that it is fitting that we honour Warne in his beloved hometown.
“Shane became recognisable not only through his genius and mastery of the art of leg spin, but also his floppy hat and zinc, so we encourage fans to remember Shane by wearing their own floppy hat and zinc to Day one of the Boxing Day Test.
“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.”
The MCG has always remained a special place for Warne, following a series of impressive performances at the venue.
Almost seven months after his passing, the ground saw over 80,000 mourners gather together to bid farewell to the beloved cricket legend.
In early December, the late cricketer was granted “Legend status” in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, making him one of five crickets to be awarded the prestigious sporting honour.
He joins cricket icons Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Vivian Richards.
His life has also been immortalised on the screen by Channel 9, who are currently in the works on filming a biopic of the late legend life.