Mumbai: Contrary to Matthew Hayden's objection that the honour should only be conferred to Australian players, Veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar was on Tuesday conferred with the Order of Australia. This comes after Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard had announced the honour for Tendulkar during a recent visit to India.
Receiving the honour, the master blaster said the first trip Down Under way back in 1991-92 changed him as a cricketer and pointed out that the Aussies had a role in his transformation into a "tougher" player. Tendulkar is the second Indian after former attorney general Soli Sorabjee to get the honour.
"It (the 1991-92 tour of Australia) completely changed me as a cricketer. It was a critical moment of my career. Three and half months changed me completely.
"I thought I was ready to play against any attack in the world and I can say that Australia has had some contribution in that to transform me into a tougher cricketer," Tendulkar said after receiving the honour at a function.
He said the Aussies, who are known for their mental toughness, also appreciate quality performance.
"We all know Australians are fierce competitors but when you do well against them, they shower on you all the compliments. And that is what happened to me. I scored reasonably well and scored a couple of hundreds there (in the Test series).
"That (the Test rubber) was followed by the tri-series against the West Indies, another tough opposition", he said.
Tendulkar further said he dreamt of playing in Australia ever since he was a 12-year-old.
"The association with Australia started long time ago and not in 1991. To me it started way back in 85 when I was 12 years old watching those fantastic day-night matches on television. I started dreaming that one day I want to go there and play cricket. It turned into a reality in 1991-92," he said.
The 39-year-old batsman got nostalgic when he recalled the moment when he met Sir Don Bradman and admitted that he was very nervous.
"The most memorable trip to Australia was when I was asked to come and wish Sir Don on his 90th birthday. I was in the middle of a national camp in Chennai and the BCCI graciously agreed to send me. (With PTI inputs)