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Cairns bats for underprivileged kids

By Deepti Patwardhan
March 23, 2006 18:34 IST
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In 1995, India was introduced to a wild Chris Cairns. The hugely talented, rebellious son of former cricketer Lance Cairns was constantly disdainful of the team management.

On the eve of New Zealand's sixth and deciding one-day game against India, at the Brabourne stadium, he allegedly got drunk and jumped into the Cricket Club of India's swimming pool. New Zealand coach Glenn Turner, who had a rough time taming the lad, promptly dropped him for the match.

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At the same CCI on Wednesday, the Kiwi all-rounder officially launched the Chris Cairns Foundation.

"It's been a long time since then, hasn't it?" said Cairns of the Indian tour.

"I had long hair then.

"To be honest, India and I didn't get along at first. But on the subsequent tours I learnt that if you are patient in India you begin to enjoy the country. There is one thing I have noticed about India: whatever walk of life people belong to, they are content and happy."

Taking a cue from Steve Waugh, Cairns started his own charity programme in India that will support the poor and underprivileged kids.

"I've been looking forward to do something like this for a long time but didn't have the time.

"Though I haven't spoken a lot with him about this, what Steve Waugh was doing here struck [India] a chord. Even I wanted to get involved in such activities, especially for the kids."

The Kiwi player, having announced his retirement from international cricket in January this year, is now looking at life beyond the game.

The Cairns Foundation has tied up with local NGO Pratham, ranked India's largest Child Education Network, which sponsors the education of 1,50,000 children.

Cairns, who has two kids of his own, wants to bring more children under the net and "make sure no one is left out".

"I visited a school sponsored by Pratham this morning. My kids go to pre-school back home, and the classroom here was smaller than the bathrooms in the Kiwi schools. There is a huge difference in the kind of facilities that we have.

"Hopefully, we will be able to make some difference. Today is just the beginning."

The foundation is looking to attract more star power, by getting some cricketers and Bollywood actors involved in its activities.

Asked whether he had asked any of the English or Indian players to help the foundation, he said it was a bad time.

"All the Indian players will be crying and the English players will be too drunk," he quipped, obviously referring to England's crushing 212 runs victory over India at the Wankhede stadium earlier in the day.

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Deepti Patwardhan

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