The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steve bowls over Buddha

This was where his dreams of conquering the final frontier ' beating Team India in India ' were buried under the blades of Messrs Laxman and Dravid. But this is where the proud wearer of the Baggy green hopes to don the hat of a realtor and build concrete sporting dreams.

Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh has made a serious pitch to set up a cricket city and a golf club in or around his home away from home, Calcutta.

Accompanied by officials of an Australian bank, Waugh unveiled his plans before chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Tuesday afternoon.

Bhattacharjee ' who was presented with a bat by Waugh ' and his team seemed quite bowled over.

'Imagine, we are a cricket-crazy lot and yet, no one here has come up with such an idea,' gushed urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya. This was after a meeting with Waugh and Co. at Salt Lake's Unnayan Bhavan.

Later, the venue shifted to Writers' Buildings, where Waugh was hosted by the chief minister for 45 minutes.

'They want to set up a cricket academy-cum-cricket city here. For this, they are looking for about 100 to 150 acres in the city. The cricket city will have grounds, coaching centres, a stadium, housing complexes, bungalows and so on,' minister Bhattacharya later elaborated.

The model was a cricket city in Melbourne, said the minister, who told the ex-cricketer that it would be tough getting such a huge plot of land in the city proper, and suggested Rajarhat or west Howrah as possible alternatives.

Bhattacharya also suggested that the proposed golf club-cum-resort could come up at Dankuni or Baruipur, or perhaps even Siliguri.

Waugh, according to the minister, was keen to go and check out the places once he was back here in six weeks.

The never-say-die sportsman, who later met sports minister Subhas Chakraborty, however, presented a dead bat as he blocked most questions on his business meeting with the chief minister.

All that Waugh would voice was that Bhattacharjee was 'knowledgeable in cricket' and that they had 'a good talk on sports and business'.

And his business plans in Calcutta' 'I am just looking at opportunities,' he said, adding that this was part of an exercise that included cities like Bangalore and Mumbai. 'For me, it is a learning process' And this is the first of many visits here, hopefully,' he concluded.

On the agenda of the talks in the chief minister's ante-chamber was cricket in Australia and the forthcoming series between India and Pakistan. 'We discussed how important it is for the people of the two countries, and how it's a lot more than just cricket' We also shared my thoughts on the series, but I'd prefer to keep that to myself and to the chief minister.'

But Waugh did not leave the chief minister's room without slipping in a yorker.

All but challenging Bhattacharjee to a game, he asked, 'Do you bowl or bat'

The chief minister's response' 'Orey baba!'

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