Sydney: On the field or off it, India remains the favoured destination of Australian Test captain Steve Waugh.
Test cricket’s most capped player wants to end his long and illustrious career in India and then carry on his association with the country through his “life-long pursuit” — Udayan, the home for children of leprosy sufferers in Calcutta which he promotes.
“I would like to end my career in India,” Waugh said. However, in much the same breath, he added, “The India series is still a long way off and I am focussing on Bangladesh at the moment.”
The thorough professional that he is, Waugh said right now he is concentrating all his energies on Australia’s upcoming assignment — a first-ever Test series against minnows Bangladesh at home.
[Significantly, when he was in Calcutta last week, Steve was asked by The Telegraph whether seeking to avenge the 2000-2001 Test series defeat in 2004-2005 — when Australia next undertake a full tour — was a target. “I don’t know whether I’ll be around. Form, desire, selection. So many factors will come into play and, so, it’s a collective target for Australian cricket. What I can confidently say is that it will be as great a series as the last one,” Steve had said.]
But one thing he has never lost sight of is his charity work in Calcutta. Ever since he visited Udayan in 1998, Waugh has been passionately involved with the charity, visiting the home on a regular basis.
“Udayan is my pursuit for life. It is not something you start and give up,” Waugh said.
“I am committed to continued support to Udayan. We are soon going to start another school for 200 needy children not far from Udayan.”
Waugh said raising funds was a difficult task, even for a celebrity like him, and “it would be good to get some funding from businesses in Australia and India”.
Waugh, who was here to attend a reunion of 147 of the 197 living Australian test cricketers, said he felt “special” every time he walked on to the field in the baggy green cap.
“Wearing the baggy green makes us feel united and special. It intimidates the other side,” he said.