Steve Waugh Talks Captain's Ride And Modern Cricket

28/10/2015 10:04 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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More than a decade on from his farewell lap of honour at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Steve Waugh is busier than ever.

The face of a handful of big-name Australian companies, his eponymous foundation shining a light on and fundraising for rare diseases, a prolific author with a baker's dozen of books under his belt, hot property on the motivational speaking circuit, and even having launched an India-based real estate venture in Waugh Global Realty, the former Australian cricket captain doesn't do things by halves.

Even when he steps away from the daily grind for a leisurely bike ride, he makes it a six-day 920 kilometre slog from Sydney to Byron Bay.

"There's no such thing as retirement, that's a strange word. I retired from playing sport, but I've been busy," Waugh told The Huffington Post Australia.

"I like the entrepreneurial space, getting into different things to test myself out. There’s plenty on."

He's at the start of a long media day in support of The Captain's Ride, the aforementioned bike trek up the east coast. It kicks off on Sunday, with 65 "captains of character and industry" joining him on the challenge which will cover 150 km of NSW countryside each day. Motorcycle champion Mick Doohan will be there. Renowned surgeon Charlie Teo too.

Despite being dressed in a crisp powder-blue racing top, Waugh still looks every bit the legendary captain of Australia's legendary, record-breaking run of 16 consecutive test victories at the turn of the century; who set the record for most test matches played; who captained Australia to World Cup and Ashes victories. A bit greyer around the temples and a few more lines on the sun-kissed face, true, but he wouldn't look out of place if he donned that trademark tattered baggy green cap and strode out onto the pitch with bat in hand.

He has stepped away from the game as a player, but remains intimately involved with the Australian team behind the scenes.

"I talk to a lot of the guys... I’m interested in this summer, it's a changing of the guard, we’ve got a new captain and a new batting lineup. People will be interested to see how Australia goes. There will be a lot of pressure," Waugh mused.

"Hopefully we give them time as a team."

With former test captain Michael Clarke leaving behind the captaincy in the longer form of the game, rising star Steve Smith has been handed the reins of the team. Smith has captained Australia in shorter forms of the game with aplomb, but remains an unknown quantity when steering a side over five days in the searing heat.

"Test captain, it's the ultimate responsibility and it's high profile. People expect big things from the Australian test cricket side," Waugh said.

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"You’ve got to want to be that captain. There are lots of duties away form the game, you’ve got to be mature enough to handle that. [Smith's] game is in top shape, he has the respect of the players and can influence the style of cricket they play. That's the good part of having a young side, you can influence the game they play."

Australia will launch their summer-opening test series against New Zealand -- which includes the first ever day-night test match, with a pink ball -- next Thursday.

Waugh won't be watching too much of the match, with plans to be on a bike somewhere between Dorrigo and Grafton when the opening thunderbolt is sent down the pitch. Each day of the Captain's Ride will shine a light on a different rare disease, the focus of the Steve Waugh Foundation. From Geleophysic Dysplasia to Acute Disseminating Encephalomyelitis, Pelizeaus-Merzbacher Disease to Arts Syndrome, Waugh said the foundation will aim to raise funds and awareness of the diseases that don't always get the headlines.

"The concept is putting rare diseases on the map. People suffering rare diseases are referred to as the orphans of the health system, they're totally forgotten. We’re the only standalone charity supporting those kids and their families," he said.

"We'll showcase the diseases we’ve supported, we've supported over 300 rare diseases, and and educate people about what a rare disease is and let people know this is a big issue. They are very poorly supported."

For more information on the Captain's Ride, see the Steve Waugh Foundation's website.

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