Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar added one more feather to his cap with the Australian Government conferring the Order of Australia award upon him, in recognition of his contribution to the sport and bringing the two countries closer.

The Order of Australia was established as an Australian society of honour for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement of meritorious service.

The Indian batting legend, who started his international career at the age of 16, has entertained cricket lovers far and across the globe with his masterful stroke play.

Sachin is perhaps Australia’s most loved and respected overseas cricketer. Whenever the little master would walk to the crease to take guard, the crowd would give him a standing ovation. In Australia, a country that has celebrated sports and sportsmen irrespective of nationality, Sachin was often compared to the country’s legendary batsman, Sir Donald Bradman.

The Web site of the Order of Australia Association goes on to add that honorary awards are rare and are made on the initiative of the Prime Minister. The incumbent Prime Minister Julia Gillard conferred the order on Sachin Tendulkar when she visited India last month.

“It really means a lot to me and I thank the Australian Prime Minister for conferring the award to me,” Tendulkar said. “During the 2007-08 season, I came across so many Australians who said Australia will thrash India but we want you to score a hundred. Such is the reception and affection of the Australians which will be with me forever.”

In 1992, just three years into his international career, Tendulkar became the youngest cricketer to score a century (his third overall) on the fiery Perth pitch. This, even as the other Indian batsmen ducked and saw their timbers flying out of the ground.

That tour marked the beginning of a very successful career against the Australians, which has spawned 2,748 test runs in 29 tests at an average of 56.08 per test. “Cricket is a great bond between Australia and India. We are both cricket-mad nations. So, I am also very pleased that we are going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar, the membership of the Order of Australia,” Gillard had said during her visit.

However, not everyone in Australia was too pleased with their government’s decision.

Hayden differs

Australia’s former star opener, Matthew Hayden said in a radio interview, “I think the honour should be exclusive to Australians. There are things that are sacred amongst our country. I understand the point that he is an iconic figure. If Sachin was living in Australia – give him the Prime Minister's gong I reckon, but the reality of it is, he’s living in India.”

However, his swashbuckling batting counterpart Adam Gilchrist was more generous in his reactions: “The discussion around his award and the variety of opinion shows the amazing profile that Tendulkar has. Credit to Sachin to have the place he has held in both the countries. He has forged 22 years of relation between the two countries,” Gilchrist said.

satyanarayan.iyer@thehindu.co.in

beena.parmar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 6, 2012)
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