Yet another feather was added to already crowded cap of veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar as he was conferred with the membership of the Order of Australia (AM), a honour which very few non-Australians have received.
Presenting the award to Tendulkar, Australian Minister Simon Crean said: “The medal was for his service to Australia-India relations by promoting goodwill, friendship and sponsorship through the sport of cricket.”
Sachin was also presented a stump that was made by one of the indigenous tribes in Tiwi Islands in the country.
On receiving the award Tendulkar said that he was overwhelmed with the honour as Australia has special place in his heart. He noted that outside India, Sydney was his favourite cricket ground and he had very fond memories of the place. He recalled that he had nursed a longing to play in Australia long before he got to set his foot Down Under during the 1991-92 tour. “When I was 12 years old, I used to see the day and night matches and at that time it was my dream to play in Australia,” recalled Tendulkar.
He said that the three and half months in Australia had helped him to polish his cricketing skills to such an extent that it gave him confidence to play against any attack in the world. “I can say that Australia had some contribution in transforming me into a tough cricketer,” said Tendulkar.
Observing that the Australians came across as very fierce competitors on the field, Tendulkar said: “But they also had the large heart to shower you with praises when you play well.” He recalled how die-hard Australian fans would confess to him that though they wanted their country to win, they also harboured an equally strong desire to see him score a ton.
Though the event on Tuesday in Mumbai concluded smoothly, the days leading to the award had their own share of controversies.
The batsman also recalled his famous meeting with cricket legend Don Bradman on his 90th birthday. “I met Sir Don along with (Shane) Warne. We both were so tense. But the moment we went there we were awe-struck. We just stood beside him and allowed him to talk as much as we could. The big question was ‘what would you have averaged in today’s cricket.’ He said maybe 70... The natural reaction was why only 70, why not 99.94, he said, ‘Come on son it is not bad for a 90 year-old man.’ That trip was memorable .”