You ought to be ready for the consequences, if and when you poke the lion. Even the mighty Curtly Ambrose found that out at the Queen’s Park Oval 18 years ago. As a cricketer, Steve Waugh was fierce, some would say 100% Australian. But those are attributes he left behind at the SCG.
In 1998, Waugh’s friendship with India bloomed, hours after a heavy defeat at Eden Gardens, when an anonymous letter was pushed under his hotel door in Kolkata. The next thing you know the leprosy-affected children of Udayan have changed his life forever. “During my initial trips to India, it was about cricket. But later I realised that there are so many underprivileged children here who don’t have the same privileges that we Australians had while growing up. It pained me and made me look inside and find ways to help them. And I’ve dedicated my life to these causes,” Waugh said during a promotional event.
Having completed his media formalities, Waugh, evidently drained by the spotlight, could have easily slipped back to the comfort of his hotel room. Instead he shook hands and toiled in conversations with scores of people, half of whom never witnessed his batting gems. “I love Indians. I love their warmth,” he reiterates.
The colour of Waugh’s drink changed at least four times within a few hours. But he took time out and spoke to HT.