Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar was conferred with the membership of Order of Australia (AM), here on Tuesday. The cricketer was presented with the Order by Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts - Simon Crean.
Thanking Crean, Tendulkar said Australians are fierce competitors but also shower you with praises when you play well. "They are fierce competitors and play well and hard. But they also shower you with praises when you come out and play well. In fact my favourite ground away from home is Sydney," he said adding that his most memorable trip to Australia was when he met Sir Donald Bradman. "When I asked him why a strike rate of 99.9, he replied: Son, it is not bad for a 90-year-old."
Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard had announced that the Order of Australia would be conferred on Tendulkar during her visit to India last month.
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," she had said. (Read: Sachin admired in Australia as he is in India, says Gillard)
Established in 1975 by Elizabeth II to recognise achievements of Australian citizens, it is generally classified under general and military categories. Tendulkar however is not the first cricketer and is now the third Indian to have received this honour.
West Indies' Brian Lara was honoured in 2007 while Mother Teresa and former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee were the previous members from India.
The announcement that the AM will be conferred to Tendulkar however came with its own set of controversies earlier. Former Australia cricketer Matthew Hayden had criticised the decision saying he felt the honour should be reserved for Australians only. (Read: Sachin should not get Order of Australia, says Hayden)
An Australian MP too had expressed his reservations, calling it 'soft diplomacy.' ( Read: Australian MP questions decision to present Order of Australia to Sachin)
Tendulkar himself though had expressed his gratitude and said that he hoped his membership would cement the bond between India and Australia.