Upset at Sachin Tendulkar being nominated for the Order of Australia by the Aussie government, former batsman Matthew Hayden said the honour should be “exclusive” to his countrymen. “Now, if Sachin was living in Australia —give him the Prime Minister’s gong I reckon — but the reality of it is he’s living in India,” Hayden told a radio show.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the honour for Tendulkar during a recent visit to India. Hayden, who is also a former recipient of the title, said only Australians should be conferred with such awards as they are about national honour. “I think it should be exclusive to Australians...I’m not so sure. There’re things that are sacred amongst our country,” Hayden said.
“I kind of understand the point of the fact that he has been such an iconic figure here in Australia and there’s an enormous population of Indians that are working here and living here very happily and in harmony with Australia that have naturalised and I think that’s a great part of our country, how multi-cultural that we are,” he explained. Tendulkar is only the second Indian after former attorney general Soli Sorabjee to get the honour.
Meanwhile, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, ministers in the Australian cabinet haven’t taken the news too well. New South Wales MP Rob Oakeshott said: “This award has an obvious diplomatic touch point. I love Sachin, I love cricket but I have a problem with soft diplomacy.”
However, the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, felt that Tendulkar’s award was fair enough. “I think Sachin Tendulkar has given a lot of pleasure to Australian cricket fans over the years,’’ he is said to have told reporters in Sydney.
The newspaper also mentioned that a few commentators “have been less complimentary of Tendulkar, noting his involvement in the racial abuse of Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds by Indian bowler Harbhajan Singh during the Sydney Test in 2008.”
But it noted that: “West Indian batsman Brian Lara was similarly recognised in 2009. Former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd was made an honorary Officer of the Order of Australia in 1985 for his ‘outstanding and positive influence’ on cricket in Australia.”