Leigh Sales paid tribute to Shane Warne on ABC’s 7:30 on Monday night, mourning the loss of her ‘dream interview’.
The award-winning journalist revealed in a lengthy Instagram post on Sunday that the ‘King of Spin’ was at the top of her wishlist when she took over the program in 2011 – finally sitting down with Warne seven years later.
Sales said he was a ‘genius’ who adored his children and admitted the discussion left her ‘touched’ by their relationship.
‘I liked him enormously. Vale Warnie, the country will be less bright and interesting without you, and condolences to his family & friends,’ she posted to social media.
Leigh Sales (pictured right) paid tribute to Shane Warne (left) on ABC’s 7:30 on Monday night, mourning the loss of her ‘dream interview’
On Monday night she closed the show speaking to former test wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, who stood at the other end of the pitch to Warne for more than a decade.
Sales said she, like most cricket fans around the world, were saddened by the void his absence would leave.
‘It’s hard to believe we’ll never switch on the cricket again to hear the confident, insightful commentary of Shane Warne,’ she said.
‘Nor will we ever see a story online again about his reliably colourful personal life. The country is still in shock after his sudden death on friday, particularly the cricket world.’
She had previously re-shared her 2018 interview with Warne, a conversation seven years in the making.
‘When I started at 7.30 in 2011, one person was at the top of my interview wishlist: Warnie,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘People were always incredulous at this – ‘Out of everyone on the planet, you want to interview Warnie?’ I did because I felt that, except for one interview by Michael Parkinson when Warnie retired, Warnie had never been given a serious in-depth TV interview that treated him properly.
‘He was a genius and historically important cricketer but also something that’s increasingly rare: a true and original character who was unapologetic about who he was.’
Sales said he was a ‘genius’ who adored his children and admitted the discussion left her ‘touched’ by their relationship
Sales said she worked for seven years to convince Warne to sit down with her, saying she ‘couldnt understand’ why he never did in-depth interviews.
‘Warnie didn’t know who I was, he didn’t really get what was in it for him to do it etc etc. Finally it happened in 2018. I opened by saying ‘Nice to meet you Shane’ and he replied ‘Nice to be met’ and from that moment, I knew he would be gold,’ she said.
‘And he was – smart, charming, interesting, vulnerable, honest. He could be a dick, but he knew it and didn’t try to hide it.’
Sales said above all else she remembers feeling ‘touched’ by the relationship between Warne and his three children.
‘I remember in his book, he gave one chapter to his kids to write. You could tell how much they loved him,’ the 7:30 host said.
‘More than that, they understood him. Their vibe was ‘yes dad has hurt and embarrassed us, but he has also loved us and we love him too.
‘It was very touching.’
Sales (pictured) said she worked for seven years to convince Warne to sit down with her, saying she ‘couldnt understand’ why he never did in-depth interviews
Warne’s death on a Thai resort island was due to natural causes, according to an autopsy report conducted by local authorities.
His body was on Sunday taken from Koh Samui island by ferry to the Surat Thani mainland and then on to a local hospital, where the autopsy took place.
Officials confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, which is believed to be the result of a heart attack.
The 52-year-old’s family have been informed of the result and his body will be transferred to Australian consular officials for return to Australia, Thai deputy national police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen said on Monday.
His remains are now expected to be prepared for an air transfer home to Melbourne on Tuesday ahead of a state funeral at his beloved Melbourne Cricket Ground, where it’s anticipated 100,000 supporters will attend.
Warne’s family issued a lengthy statement on Monday night with individual tributes from his parents Keith and Brigette, brother Jason, his three children Brooke, Jackson and Summer and ex-wife Simone Callahan.
Shane Warne’s dad Keith (far left) and mum Brigette (far right) described their son’s death as a ‘never-ending nightmare’ They’re pictured with Warne and his then- partner Liz Hurley in 2013
‘The night of the 4th of March 2022 is when a never-ending nightmare began for our family, for that is the date we lost our much loved and admired son, father, brother and Uncle, Shane Keith Warne’ a tragedy we will never come to terms with,’ the parents wrote.
‘To find words to adequately express our sadness is an impossible task for us and looking to a future without Shane is inconceivable, hopefully the mountain of happy memories we all have will help us cope with our ongoing grief. ‘
Warne’s eldest daughter Brooke, 24, vowed to always cherish their final memories together laughing and joking around with each other.
‘We were so similar in so many ways and I always used to joke that I got your genes and about how much that annoyed me!,’ she said.
‘Well now I couldn’t be happier and prouder that I have your genes. I am lucky and will forever be so proud to call you my Dad forever. I love you to infinity and back and I will miss you forever.’
Brooke Warne (pictured in London with her dad Shane) said she would always cherish their final memories together laughing and joking around
Warne’s son Jackson, 23, doesn’t think anything will fill the void left in his broken heart.
‘Sitting at the poker table, walking around the golf course, watching the Saints and eating pizza is never going to be the same,’ he said.
‘But I know all you ever wanted for me is to be happy, no matter what. You just wanted me to be happy, that’s it.
‘So that’s what I’m going to do, try and be happy. I am going to miss you so much Dad and you were truly the best father and mate anyone could’ve asked for.’
Warne’s youngest daughter Summer, 20, described him as the best dad anyone could ask for as she recalled their time together
‘I wish I could’ve told you that everything was going to be okay and hold your hand. You are the best Dad someone could ever ask for, ‘ she said.
‘Our time was robbed. I want more holidays with you, more laughs where your smile lights up the whole room, more ‘goodnight I love you SJ, I’ll see you in the morning’, more talks about how our days were and just to feel safe when you would hug me and you would let me know how proud you are of me and how much you love me.
‘You haven’t died Dad, you’ve just moved to a different place, and that is in our heart.
Watching his beloved St Kilda AFL team will never be the same for Jackson Warne (pictured left with his late dad)
Shane Warne was described as the best dad anyone could ask more by his youngest daughter Brooke (pictured)
Simone Callahan, the mother of Warne’s children and his former wife of 10 years added: ‘Who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.’
Jason Warne remembered his brother as an amazing guy who lived an amazing life.
‘The world has lost someone extremely special to them, who has made a positive influence on their lives and it is incredibly touching to see the outflow of emotion and the amazing tributes to him by friends, teammates, opponents and media,’ he said.
‘Personally, I have lost my nemesis in all sports as a child, the person who smeared vegemite under my nose while he pinned me down giving me the typewriter, my big brother, my mate.
‘Life will forever have a massive hole in it. I will miss our fierce competition on the golf course, poker table and the sledging, seeing who could put the other on tilt first.
The family have accepted an offer from the Victorian government and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of a state funeral for Warne.