CRICKET legend Henry Blofeld has paid tribute to Shane Warne on the day of his memorial – and spoken of the time Warnie introduced him to Jager-bombs.
Voice of Cricket ‘Blowers’ – commentator on BBC Radio’s Test Match Special from 1972 to 2017 – met Warne when the late Aussie was a young cricketer and the pair regularly socialised together.
Henry Blofeld, second left, holds fond memories of the late Shane Warne, rightCredit: Twitter / @blowersh
Warne died suddenly on March 4 in Thailand aged just 52Credit: PA
And speaking before a state memorial for Warne today, Blofeld hailed “extrovert” Warne and said he feared his friend died while being “an adventurer” in Thailand.
Blowers, 82, said of Warne – whose tragic death aged just 52 in Koh Samui on March 4 shocked the world: “I was very shocked by his death but not entirely surprised.
“If Warnie was there with male friends, it was obviously a lads’ holiday and they weren’t going to a health farm.
“But Warnie was an adventurer and would try anything and liked to live life to the full.
“I understand there were girls there and that did not surprise me.
“Warnie had a big sexual appetite and needed female company – and usually had no trouble finding it.
“It is a great tragedy and the world is a poorer place for Warnie, an extrovert, not being here.”
A crowd of 50,000 – including sports stars like ex-players Nasser Hussain and Brian Lara and the late player’s family – will pay tribute to Warne in an emotional service at Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
It will be a fitting tribute to the star who Blowers – a first-class cricketer, whose playing career was ended early by injury before becoming a commentator – first met in the late 1980s, when international games were hosted in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Blowers – made an OBE for services to broadcasting – said: “He was a talented player and cheeky chappie who was fresh faced, had a glint in his eye, liked a drink and liked the ladies.
“It was a Muslim country where alcohol was supposedly banned, but the hotels hosting the players and pundits became like Majestic Wine warehouses.
“I remember Warnie coming into my room and tucking into the wine. We would sit there for hours having a laugh and talking about cricket.
“He would then be off though chasing female company, and it was clear at that early stage he wasn’t getting his eight hours sleep every night.
“But he was an extrovert and if he wasn’t he wouldn’t have been such a great bowler, in the same way that Ian Botham wouldn’t have been such a great player if he wasn’t a big character.
“Warnie practised and mastered his art – and turned leg-spin bowling into an art form like no-one has ever done.”
After an astonishing career that saw him take 708 test wickets for Australia, dad-of-three Warne became a pundit – and often mixed with Blowers after their stints behind the microphone.
And after an England v Pakistan Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham in August 2016, Warne and Blowers were pictured together – alongside ex-England players Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell.
Blowers said: “That was quite an evening, I can tell you.
“At the end of the day’s cricket, Tuffers and Vaughny and I went to the hotel bar for a drink.
“We had a bottle of red, which seemed to go down well so another was ordered.
“Then, Warnie appeared and – as usual – he was with a lady.
“I got the impression that they were ‘old friends’ and had, perhaps, gone a few rounds together previously.
“She went off and was coming back later to meet Warnie, so he got us a third bottle of wine.
“Then, when he came back from the bar, he slammed a glass down on the table and said, ‘Come on Blowers you must try this.’”
The Aussie was given a brilliant send off on Wednesday in MelbourneCredit: Reuters
Warne’s children Brooke and Jackson in attendance at the funeralCredit: Splash
Son Jackson helps carry the coffin at the memorial serviceCredit: AP
Warne had ordered his pal a Jager-bomb – a glass of Red Bull with a shot of Jagermeister inside in a separate glass.
Blowers added: “It was delicious but I remember hurting my nose as I drank it as the shot glass inside the glass slid down and hit me.
“But I got the hang of it – we all had a few, and I had three of them I think.
“I think Warnie targeted me with the first Jager-bomb, not because I was the oldest, but actually because I was the one tucking in the most.
“In typical Warnie fashion, he was grinning and egging me on as he told me to give it a go.
“We had a lot of fun that night and later on Warnie disappeared – as he would do – and I can only presume he went to meet his female companion.
“I was told the next day that the ex-England player Graeme Swann put me to bed that night.”
Warne, who was working at the Test as a TV pundit, went to check on his friend Blowers the next day in the TMS studio.
Speaking from his Norfolk cottage, Blowers said: “Warnie stuck his head round the corner, I think, expecting me to be struggling.
“In fact I think he was slightly disappointed to see that I was actually firing on all cylinders.
We need more people like Warnie in the world – but not too many!
“I seemed to have recovered more quickly than the young guns and was at the top of my game.
“I even suggested on air that we went out again that night and repeated the trick – but they all chickened out.”
Author and public-speaker Blowers last saw Warne at Lord’s, when he went back to the ground in 2019 after his retirement.
He said: “I went to Lord’s to socialise and have a drink. Warnie was there and bounced up to me, gave me a handshake and a cuddle and we had a chat and a laugh for 15 minutes.
“Warnie always had time for me and I always appreciated that.”
Warne – whose body was returned to Australia on Thursday – was married to Simone Callahan for ten years until 2005 and they had three children, Brooke, 24, Jackson, 22 and Summer, 20.
He later dated model Liz Hurley from 2010 to 2013.
Blowers said: “While Warnie was an adventurer, he was also a family man.
“I heard him talk about his children with great love and he used to buy them presents when he was away.
“But women were his weakness.
Warne has three children with former wife Simone CallahanCredit: Instagram / @shanewarne23
Warnie made spin bowling an art – and he was the master craftsmanCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Legendary broadcaster Blofeld raises a toast to his friend and cricket iconCredit: Paul Edwards
“He had an awful lot of success – so hat’s off to him.
“His address book would fetch a lot of money, I would think.
“Warnie had his leg pulled a lot about Liz Hurley, but he was rightly proud of his relationship with her.
“He was one of the great characters of the game and it is incredibly sad that he has died young, especially for his family and friends.
“He was due to commentate in England this summer – and frankly, the game and our summer will be a lot duller for his passing.
“Warnie was very much against the woke-brigade and would speak his mind.
“He lived his life like he played cricket, and you never knew what he was going to bring.
“We all conform and we are scared of woke as much as we are scared of Putin.
“That is one of the reasons why Warne will be missed – he was a non-conformist.
“But he took 708 test wickets and transformed cricket, making leg-spin into a new art form.
“I hope he is remembered for that and we need more people like Warnie in the world – but not too many!”