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Waugh a song-and-dance, skipper!
- Sourav’s boys will help raise funds so Steve’s girls get a home to live in

There is no love lost between the two on the cricket field. But now, they are padding up for a common cause off it.

Steve Waugh and Sourav Ganguly will be leading — from a distance — a star-studded team for a masquerade ball, song and dance and gala dinner on the night of November 23. And it’ll all be by Sourav’s boys for Steve’s girls. The Calcutta Foundation Orchestra, which has the Indian captain as figurehead, will comprise orphan boys from Oxford Mission. And the money is being raised for Ashray, a home for girls of leprosy sufferers, that has the Australian skipper as patron.

Although the two top draws won’t be around, tickets — or rather tables — are selling like hot cakes. The 200 seats, with a price tag of Rs 1,000 each, at the 20 tables in the Taj Crystal Room, are “nearly all taken”. Doing the star turn will be Lee-Alison Sibley, wife of the US consul-general in Calcutta, who will be belting out favourites down the years — from Frank Sinatra to Barbara Streisand — accompanied by the Orchestra.

All with good reason — the proceeds will help build an extension for Ashray, a project run by the Philanthropic Society of the Orthodox Church, housing 200 orphan girls in Nepalgunge. Ashray will mark the second innings for Waugh in Calcutta, following his role in Udayan, another Calcutta Foundation project that helps children of leprosy sufferers. He has already set the ball rolling by promoting Ashray in Australia.

“Steve has a way of getting into people’s hearts and they are always willing to give when he asks. Thanks to his efforts, we’ve received numerous cheques, from five to 500 Australian dollars,” says Shamlu Dudeja, chairperson of Calcutta Foundation. The building blocks at Ashray are already in place, with the proceeds from Waugh’s campaign. The plan is to construct a multipurpose wing next to the existing one, that will house 200 girls of leprosy sufferers, as well as a primary school for the under-14s, a vocational training scheme for battered women and an auditorium where the Calcutta Foundation Orchestra can practice.

The Orchestra consists of a bunch of boys from Oxford Mission, a city orphanage near Behala. “Sourav used to play with the boys of the Mission as a child and so, when we approached him to be a patron for the Foundation Orchestra, he agreed,” says Dudeja. Sourav’s ‘boys’ have bowled Sibley over: “They are marvellous musicians and wonderful to be with.”

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