Steve Waugh has always been his own man, which might explain why he is nowhere to be seen on the eve of the Ashes summer, as Australia’s one-day side prepares for Sunday’s Champions Trophy final, fellow former skipper Allan Border starts pumping up a beach cricket beer promotion and another ex-captain is flogging air-conditioners on TV.

To find Ricky Ponting’s predecessor right now, you’d need to travel more than 100km outside of Bombay, to the tiny village of Malavli. According to The Times newspaper, that’s where Waugh can be found building houses, alongside 82-year-old former US President Jimmy Carter and Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt, among others.

In global terms, Waugh-Carter-Pitt isn’t a particularly well-recognised trifecta, but the three very different celebrities are working together on a building blitz to create 100 homes for needy Indian families in just five days. An initiative of the former President, the massive project involves more than 2000 volunteers from 40 countries.

Pitt’s appearance was apparently a bonus. He turned up, unannounced, having been in the area because Angelina Jolie is shooting a movie nearby.

Waugh’s presence is less of a surprise. He was the Australian captain who encouraged his teams to leave the safety of hotel air-conditioning on tour and actually experience the countries the team visited.

He became very involved in helping various charities in Asia and is hugely respected in that part of the world for his commitment, during and after his playing career.

Best of all, Waugh’s impressive charity work has usually been conducted without fanfare. He may get to eat with Brad and Jimmy in the VIP tent when the workers down tools for mass-feeding, but then again, knowing Waugh, you wouldn’t bet on it.

Who needs a VIP serviette when you’ve got a lucky red hanky? And Steve definitely wouldn’t be accompanied by 26 special security agents, as Mr Carter apparently is.

Peter Fray

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