Sachin says 'heartfelt thanks' to honour

India’s record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar is to be conferred with membership of the Order of Australia, visiting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said here yesterday.

Gillard, currently on a three-day state visit to India, told reporters that Tendulkar deserved the “special honour” because he was a “very special cricketer”.
“Cricket is of course a great bond between Australia and India. We are both cricket-mad nations,” she said.

Sachin Tendulkar is greeted by fans during the CB Series at the Sydney Cricket Ground earlier this year. Pic/Getty Images

“I am very pleased that we are going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar the membership of the Order of Australia.

“This is a very special honour very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national.”

The award will be conferred on the 39-year-old Tendulkar during Australian minister Simon Crean’s upcoming visit to India, Gillard said.

Tendulkar, who is in South Africa representing the Mumbai Indians team in the Twenty20 Champions League, said he was honoured.

“I indeed feel privileged and honoured at receiving this recognition. As an Indian cricketer, I have always enjoyed playing against and in Australia and feel it is one of the great cricketing rivalries, which is pivotal to the health of our game. 

‘Unique love’
“I hope that this honour will further cement the bond between the two countries, which both share a unique love for cricket. I have always received tremendous affection from the Australian cricket fans. Once again my heartfelt thanks to the Australian government for this recognition and for considering me worthy of this rare honour,” Tendulkar said in a statement.

Tendulkar has scored a world record Test (15,553) and one-day (18,426) runs and has also compiled an unprecedented 100 international centuries.

Tendulkar’s popularity in Australia was cemented when legendary cricketer Don Bradman said he was reminded of his own batting after watching the Indian play.

Sachin’s support for Bhajji criticised
Noted Australian cricket writer Malcolm Conn has slammed the move to honour Sachin Tendulkar. "Great batsman he may be, as the Prime Minister pointed out in New Delhi yesterday with exquisite timing, but sections of the Australian cricket community still remember the central role he played in the Andrew Symonds scandal," wrote Conn, who criticised Tendulkar for backing Harbhajan Singh in the Monkeygate scandal in 2007-08. “Tendulkar showed no respect for the Australian cricket community when he was in Australia last summer either.

At no stage did he ever bother to make a public utterance to his many fans and followers in this country,” added Conn.

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