Boxing Day Test: Tip your hat in Warne’s memory, get a free heart check-up

Cricket Australia and late Aussie icon’s family in unique drive; first Test against Pakistan begins at Perth on Thursday

Shane Warne's son Jackson, flanked by sisters Brooke and Summer, at the MCG to announce the heart check-up initiative (photo: Facebook)
Shane Warne's son Jackson, flanked by sisters Brooke and Summer, at the MCG to announce the heart check-up initiative (photo: Facebook)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

Remember the late Shane Warne tipping his floppy hat to fans in that signature gesture of his? It was regarded as a show of gratitude by cricket’s eternal showman, who preferred his floppy and hated all the fuss over the famous baggy green. 

Come day one of this year’s Boxing Day Test between Australia and Pakistan in Melbourne, and Cricket Australia (CA) will partner with the Shane Warne Legacy to both celebrate the late legend, as well as help raise awareness about heart health. Pakistan are visiting Down Under for a three-match Test series, staring with the first in Perth on Thursday. 

Fans will be encouraged to wear the floppy hat and tip it to Warne at 3.50 pm AEDT (2.20 am IST) in a nod to his Test cap number. They will also be able to take a free Shane Warne Legacy Heart Test at 23 medical-grade health stations in and around the MCG on the first four days of the Test (beginning 26 December).

Warne passed away of suspected heart failure on 4 March 2022 during a vacation in Thailand. Fox Sports, as a Shane Warne Legacy partner, will dedicate its coverage of the Boxing Day Test to the legend. On Christmas Day, Fox Cricket will air 24 hours of Warne highlights, also promoting the cause for fans to get their hearts checked during the match. 

Shane Warne performing his signature gesture in 2001 (photo: ESPN/Cricinfo)
Shane Warne performing his signature gesture in 2001 (photo: ESPN/Cricinfo)

CA chief Nick Hockley said they were “delighted” to partner with the Shane Warne Legacy to raise heart health awareness. “Shane is greatly missed here in Australia and around the world, and we are grateful to the Shane Warne Legacy and the Warne family in partnering with us to help make a positive difference in his honour,’’ he was quoted as saying.  

Meanwhile, Australia has reappointed Travis Head as vice-captain of the men’s international summer as Nathan Lyon makes a comeback to the playing eleven in place of Todd Murphy. Lyon, the off spinner who is just four wickets shy of becoming only the third Australian bowler after Warne (708) and Glenn McGrath (563) to take 500 Test scalps, last played during the Ashes, where a right calf tear forced him to the sidelines. 

Head, fresh off a Man of the Final performance that fired the Aussies to World Cup glory last month, has been named as joint vice-captain alongside Steve Smith, though Smith will remain the first option to take the captaincy reins in Cummins’ absence. 

The trio of pace bowlers — Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood — will reunite, while David Warner will open the batting after the veteran spent much of the build-up to this match in the spotlight over his place in the team. If selected, the 37-year-old will hang up his boots following the final match of the series in Sydney. 

Mitch Marsh will play in front of his home crowd, and in a Test at Perth for the first time, with the 32-year-old remaining the preferred allrounder over Cameron Green after he edged out his state teammate during the Ashes. 

Pakistan, meanwhile, named their eleven on social media, confirming two debutant fast bowlers Aamir Jamal and Khurram Jamal. With leg spinner Abrar Ahmed missing owing to a knee injury, the tourists have not picked a specialist spinner. Off-spinning allrounder Salman Ali Agha will play alongside seam-bowling allrounder Faheem Ashraf. 

There had been some local clamour for Australia to blood Lance Morris, the raw speedster from Dunsborough (three hours south of Perth), but Cummins said they picked their best attack. 

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

Pakistan XI: Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood (c), Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Salman Ali Agha, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Aamir Jamal, Khurram Shahzad

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