Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced Tuesday during a visit in New Delhi that legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was to be awarded with an Order of Australia; a prestigious order of chivalry that recognises (mostly) Australian citizens for meritorious service. Tendulkar’s influence on the game of cricket is undeniable, but does this award really mean that much?
Similar to the Order of Canada, Prime Minister Gillard announced the plan of recognising Tendulkar with the Australian version of the honour presumably because of the cricketing-based relations he helped established during his 23 year Test career.
“This is a very special honour, very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national,” Ms Gillard said.
“Cricket is of course a great bond between Australia and India. We are both cricket-mad nations,” she added.
However, unlike the Canadian version of the Queen’s honour, the Order of Australia appears to have been handed out pretty liberally to foreigners and cricketers alike.
Three other foreign born cricketers have been honoured with the award: West Indies greats Clive Lloyd in 1985, Sir Garfield Sobers in 2003 and Brian Lara in 2009 have each been recognised (Lara for his “promotion goodwill, friendship and sportsmanship through the sport of cricket"). Over 20 Australian cricketers have also received an Order of Australia to go along with the 275 plus non-Australians recognised.
However, the 39-year-old Tendulkar is just the second Indian after former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee to receive the honour.
Not to take anything away from Tendulkar, it is a prestigious award, but I’m fairly sure his latest achievement won’t come anywhere near the achievements reached during his 190 game, 15,533 run Test match career.
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Follow Robert White on Twitter @RobertWhitebrrr.