Adam Gilchrist will 'never delete' the last message he received from Shane Warne

Adam Gilchrist says he will ‘never delete’ the last message he received from his close friend and former Australia teammate Shane Warne.

Warne, who is considered to be one of the greatest cricketers of all time, died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 52.

The former leg-spinner, who took 708 Test wickets and won the World Cup in 1999, was found unresponsive at a villa in Thailand where he was staying with friends.

Warne spent much of his international career playing with ex-wicketkeeper Gilchrist and the pair remained close friends after retiring.

Gilchrist even received a text message from Warne on the day he died, with the spin king praising his former teammate for his tribute to Rod Marsh, another Australia cricket legend who passed away the previous day.

‘I spoke to Shane about a week ago,’ Gilchrist told ABC News. ‘And I received a really nice text from him.

‘I am assuming this was eight hours before he passed away. He was just sending me a message. He was one of the few guys that consistently called me “Church”.

‘It’s a nickname only those in the inner circle knew about – it’s about being confused by a young English fan and they called me “Eric Gilchurch”.

‘Warnie always called me “Churchy” and it always felt like a term of endearment from a friend.

‘He messaged me saying, “Church, wonderful tribute to Rod Marsh”. I was very honoured to do a voice over [about Marsh].

‘We were not even close to coming to terms with the passing of my childhood hero in Rod Marsh and another legend of the cricket world.

‘Warnie just messaged me and said, “well done on that sir”. So that was the last contact. It’s a text message I will never delete.’

Gilchrist was behind the stumps for much of Warne’s extraordinary career, with the duo combining to help Australia win three Ashes series and dominant the sport in the early 2000s.

Despite making 396 appearances for Australia, scoring 33 international centuries and being part of one of the greatest teams in history, Gilchrist says keeping to Warne was the ‘highlight of his career’.

‘It was the highlight of my cricketing career, simple as that,’ Gilchrist added. ‘Forget the runs and everything, to keep wicket to Shane Warne… I had the best seat in the house.

‘It all started at the top of his bowling mark. In fact, it actually started when he took his hat off. And the crowd knew that he was about to come on to bowl. Give the hat to the umpire, get to the top of the mark.

‘All the theatrics. It was almost like a film director just pulling the strings and setting everything and building it up… all to the moment when he invariably got his prey.

‘It was an amazing angle and I would say that a very close and personal part of my journey was that keeper-bowler relationship with Shane.’

Warne’s coffin was draped in an Australian flag as it arrived in Melbourne on Thursday ahead of a state funeral which will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 30.

Around 100,000 people are expected to pack out the MCG, where Warne took his first Test hat-trick and reached the milestone of 700 wickets.

Fans have continued to lay floral tributes at a statue of Warne outside the ground, while the MCG confirmed a stand would be renamed the SK Warne Stand in his honour.

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