Iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar is all set to become the first Indian sportsperson to be conferred with the Membership of the Order of Australia, an honour "rarely" bestowed on non-Australians.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made the announcement on Tuesday while visiting a cricket clinic in New Delhi and said Tendulkar would receive the honour from Simon Crean, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Regional Australia, when he visits India.
The 'Order of Australia' is an order of chivalry to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service. The 39-year-old Tendulkar will be awarded an AM, which is one of the six grades in the Order of Australia.
"Cricket is of course a great bond between Australia and India. We are both cricket-mad nations. I am very pleased that we are going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar, membership of the order of Australia (AM)," Gillard said.
"This is a very special honour very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national. He is away playing cricket -- surprise, surprise but the award will be conferred on him by minister Crean when he visits India," she said.
"So, a special honour and a very special recognition of such a great batsman. The honour is very special and Sachin is a very special cricketer."
Tendulkar, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, will become only the second Indian after former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee to get the honour.
Sorabjee was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia (AM) "for service to Australia-India bilateral legal relations" in 2006.
Tendulkar is not the first cricketer to be made an Order of Australia AM -- in 2009, West Indies legend Brian Lara was also made an honorary member.
Another West Indies legend, Clive Lloyd, is an Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia, having been conferred with the award way back in 1985.
The right-handed Tendulkar, considered the finest batsman in contemporary cricket, has 15,533 runs in 190 Tests besides a mammoth 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs.