New Delhi: Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar will be conferred membership to the Order of Australia today in Mumbai by Simon Crean, Australia's Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts.
The Order of Australia was conferred on Sachin by Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard during her visit to India in October.
Gillard had described her decision as special and something rarely conferred to non-Australians. "Cricket is of course a very 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 membership of the "Order of Australia". This a very special honour very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national," Gillard had said then.
But not many agreed with her and questioned the decision. Former Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden went on to say that Sachin shouldn't get the membership as such honours should be exclusive to the Australians.
In an interview to an Australian Radio show, Hayden said: "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."
Many Australians questioned Sachin's role in the Monkeygate scandal in 2008 following the suspension of Harbhajan Singh for racially abusing Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test.
However, PM Gillard said Sachin is as admired in Australia as he is in India. Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist reiterated her opinion and said that the senior Indian batsman has helped in forging relations between the two countries.
"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.
"I was able to send him a quick message and was thrilled to receive one back (from him) saying 'welcome to the club', because it was the same honour that I was very fortunate to receive. It (the award) is a mark of respect to a great man," he added.
Tendulkar has enjoyed a special relationship with Australia. At the Sydney Cricket Ground on India's 1991-92 tour, he became the youngest player to score a Test century in Australia. He followed that up with an amazing hundred in the final Test at Perth in conditions more suited to bowlers.
Tendulkar made five Test tours to Australia with only the latest being a disappointment on the batting front. In 1988, he visited Sir Don Bradman at his home in Adelaide to greet him on his 90th birthday.