With the relationship between Australia and India increasingly testy, Julia Gillard wants to send a signal that our countries are still close, and that Australians respect Indians.
Her solution? Bestow an honorary award on Sachin Tendulkar, the second best batsman after our own Don Bradman ever to play the game of cricket.
Leaving aside the obvious argument that such awards should go to those who toil diligently for this country, rather than those who make our bowlers toil for wickets, Tendulkar doesn’t deserve this because the last time he set foot in Australia he was belligerent and disrespectful.
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It was on. You could feel it. Tendulkar was in the mood. It was The Little Master’s last match at the SCG, a ground he loves in a city he loves, and you could just sense a big score. Maybe even that elusive hundredth hundred.
The night was warm enough for T-shirts, cool enough for comfort. Australia had runs on the board, but nothing that looked beyond India’s reach. The sun was setting and the scene was set. And then it happened.
Sachin Tendulkar was run out. There was the suggestion that Brett Lee impeded him. Twitter went into meltdown in India, even though it’s fair to say the Indian tweeters didn’t exactly have the best view of proceedings. Replays showed Brett Lee had done nothing wrong. The world’s biggest and most authoritative cricket website, the India-based espncricinfo.com, concurred.
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As India lurch from hopelessness to complete incompetence, one man sure to escape the axe, not to mention any serious scrutiny, is Sachin Tendulkar.
To Indians, the Little Master is beyond reproach. He is bigger than Bollywood and greater than Gandhi. Click on the special “Sachin Zone” on the Times of India website today, and among the usual fatuous stories arguing Tendulkar is better than Bradman, you’ll find a story about the value of the insurance policy on his house.
For all the magnifying glass scrutiny on his private life, there’s a major hole in Tendulkar’s batting record which no Indian ever seems to notice. In short, he is not a match winner. Not when playing against Australia, anyway.
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When Australia plays India in the ICC World Cup tonight, it will bring together two giants of the game, in Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. The former is batting better than ever, the latter is clearly on the wane. But Punter has one thing on Tendulkar which India’s little master would do anything to change.
Ricky has nailed India when it really, really matters. Tendulkar hasn’t returned the favour.
That’s not to understate the record of Tendulkar, who has plundered over 3,000 runs against Australia in both Tests and One-Dayers down the years. That’s more runs than he’s scored against any other single country, and he’s scored them against us at better than his overall career average.
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