Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister of Australia, announced on Tuesday that Sachin Tendulkar would be presented with a membership of the Order of Australia. The veteran Indian cricketer is to receive the distinction for his contribution in the field of sports.
Gillard made the declaration to reporters in New Delhi on her visit to a cricket clinic organised by the Magic Bus NGO. She stated that the special honour, also called AM, would be awarded by Simon Crean, the Cabinet Minister of Australia, on his impending trip to India. She added that the honour is going to be something special since it is rarely conferred to a person who is not an Australian national or a citizen of Australia, and such a fine batsman is worthy of being a member of the Order of Australia. 39 year-old Tendulkar is at present playing in South Africa in the Champions League Twenty20. He is going to be the only Indian after Soli Sorabjee, the former attorney general, to receive the honour.
Gillard was pleased with the decision to present Tendulkar with the award. She revealed that the sport of cricket is a major bond between Indian and Australia. Both nations are passionate about the sport and so, to honour Sachin Tendulkar with the title was an appropriate choice.
The Prime Minister was escorted on her visit by a few members of the indigenous cricket team of Australia, who are presently in India to take part in some exhibition matches. Gillard could be seen mingling with some of the children from the NGO, who were busy playing a game of cricket among themselves. She did not wish to take up the bat or the ball and claimed outright that her refusal was due to her political differences with John Howard. However, she did admit that she had gained knowledge of some skills from watching him.
She made it clear that she had no intention of showcasing her skills in front of everyone, partly because of the fact that she did not possess any kind of cricketing skill whatsoever. She also pointed out the fact that even though she did not see eye to eye with the policies of Prime Minister Howard in several respects, she observed and picked up points from his prime ministership term. One of these key lessons, she revealed, was never to pick up a bat in the country in front of the representatives from the media.
The Order of Australia happens to be segregated into general and military sections, with each division being ranked in terms of seniority.
Tendulkar is not the first cricketer to be inducted into the Order of Australia. Legendary West Indies player, Brian Lara, was made an honorary AM in the year 2009.