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Chris Cairns unplugged

New Zealand all-rounder Chris Cairns talks of life on and off the pitch and his dream of educating underprivileged children in India


I was temperamental when I started out and often threw away my wicket. Things have changed since. CHRIS CAIRNS



Wacky Kiwi all-rounder Chris Cairns strikes a pose for the camera

He broods, he bowls, slams sixes with schoolboy strokes, turns matches around, is every punter's nightmare, wows the janta with outrageous batting and puts off purists with raw talent. Had there been a riddle-wrapped-in-mystery-inside-an-enigma contest for cricketers, Chris Cairns would win hands down.

But for all his reputation of being a loose cannon, there's a method to Cairns' madness. "I was temperamental when I started out and often threw away my wicket. Things have changed since. Right now, I feel more mature and there is a certain consistency in my performance," he asserts. At 34, he isn't getting any younger but the towering Kiwi all-rounder, who recently revealed plans to retire after the 2007 World Cup, thinks he can make it to the Cup squad without a hitch. Unforgiving as the game is on ageing stars, Cairns believes he can push his body and mind to set off some fireworks on the big occasion.

"It's all up here," he says tapping his head. "Cricket is as much a psychological game as it is a physical one. You got to be mentally strong and push yourself to deliver the goods," he adds.

Optimism apart, even he admits all good things come to an end. When it's time to hang up boots, a string of successful business ventures would keep the cash flowing. Besides Infotech deals, there's a confectionary firm he can bank on for bread and butter. So how does he see life after cricket? "There're the businesses to take care of. I also have plans to launch a foundation for underprivileged children in India. The foundation will focus on promoting literacy since there are a lot of children here who really need education. I have received so much from the game that I think it's time to pay back," he says.

On a more personal note, he talks of sons Tom and Bram. With cricket running in the Cairns' genes, talk turns to the kids picking up the willow.

"I really don't know. They can become chess players for all I know. They are free to pursue what they want, though their grandfather (former New Zealand cricketer Lance Cairns) would love to see them become golfers," says the cool dad, a smile creasing the corner of his eyes.

K. SACHIDANAND MENON

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