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November 6, 2012
Sachin Tendulkar has said his first tour of Australia in 1991-92, when he was still a teenager, toughened him up as a cricketer, and helped prepare him to face world-class attacks. He was speaking at a ceremony in Mumbai where he became the first Indian sportsman to be honoured with membership of the Order of Australia.
"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," Tendulkar said. "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."
India lost the Test series 4-0, but Tendulkar was India's highest run-getter with 368 runs, including one of his most celebrated centuries, in Perth. "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)."
Tendulkar said he had dreamt of playing in Australia even before entering his teens. "The association with Australia started long time ago and not in 1991," he said. "To me it started way back in 1985 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."
The other non-Australian cricketers to have received the Order of Australia honour are West Indian greats Garry Sobers, Clive Lloyd and Brian Lara. Tendulkar was recognised "for his service to Australia-India relations by promoting goodwill, friendship and sportsmanship through the sport of cricket."
Australia's arts minister Simon Crean conferred the award to the cricketer. "Mr Tendulkar, as a member and former Captain of the Indian Cricket Team, has made an outstanding contribution to international cricket for more than 20 years," a statement from the Australian consulate-general read.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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