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Udayan kids miss out on Waugh's farewell show

While their hearts went out to 'Steve Da', their burning desire to see him in live action in his farewell Test match remained unfulfilled.

india Updated: Jan 06, 2004 18:32 IST

While their hearts went out to 'Steve Da', their burning desire to see him in live action in his farewell Test match remained unfulfilled.

For the tiny inmates of 'Udayan', the home for children of leprosy patients here, the lack of a cable television connection has never been more painful.

As Steve Waugh soldiered on to play yet another characteristic gritty knock to save an Aussie debacle in Sidney, his ardent admirers in Udayan had to remain content with knowing the latest from Doordarshan news.

"They were all very sad as they could not watch the match. We tried to keep them engaged in school. But however much we tried, it was never business as usual for them today," said Udayan founder, Reverend James Stevens.

Nivedita Bhavan, the girls' hostel built from funds raised by Waugh, was decorated as a tribute to the cricketer who has already declared that Udayan would be the 'pursuit' of his 'life' after retirement.

"The children spent hours decorating the hostel with balloons and festoons," Stevens said.

The Aussie cricketer, lovingly called 'Steve Da' by the kids, endeared himself to the children through his several visits to Udayan over the years.

E-mails and greeting cards wishing Waugh a happy retired life with his family have gone out from the Barrackpore Home.

"Steve told me that his one regret was that cricket has kept him away from his wife Lynette and his three lovely kids. Now that his international cricket commitments will no longer be there, I think he can devote more time to them," Stevens said.

"We'll have a big celebration when he comes here the next time. I hope now he can come to our Home more often and spend quality time with the children," he said.

Inside the Home, the kids were torn apart between their love for India and admiration for Waugh.

"As Indians, we all wanted our team to win. But at the same time, we craved for a good innings from Steve Da. Our first wish didn't come true. But we feel happy that Steve Da played so well in his last Test," said 11-year-old Lakshmi, who is sponsored by Waugh and Lynette.

Waugh's association with 'Udayan' began in 1998 during a tour to Kolkata to play a Test match.

Prompted by some friends, he undertook a visit to the sylvan surroundings of the Barrackpore Home after the match ended and offered to help in its activities.

He came back the same year and took part in an auction dinner in Kolkata to raise funds for setting up the girls' wing.

Keeping up the good work, Waugh later shipped cots, medicines and gifts for the children and came back in 2000 to play Holi with them.

He paid his fifth visit last July accompanied by Lynette and gifted football and rugby balls to the children, besides bringing medicines for them.

First Published: Jan 06, 2004 18:32 IST