Upset at Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar getting the Order of Australia (AM), former batsman Matthew Hayden said the honour should be "exclusive" to his countrymen.
In an Australian radio show, Hayden said Tendulkar didn't deserve the honour. "I think it should be exclusive to Australians... There are things that are sacred amongst our country. I understand the point that he is an iconic figure. 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," he 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.
Hayden was one of the few Australian cricketers to have earned a similar honour, inducted in 2010 for services to cricket and the community. The list includes cricket greats like Sir Donald Bradman, Allan Border, Dennis Lillee, Max Walker, Bob Simpson, Keith Miller and Steve Waugh.
Australian cricket fans have also criticised their Prime Minister's decision citing Tendulkar's role in the monkeygate scandal involving the countries' cricket teams. Tendulkar was a key witness in the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds racism controversy in 2008.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday had announced that the iconic Indian cricketer will be conferred the membership of the Order of Australia, an honour "rarely" awarded to non-Australians. He 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.
"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," Gillard, who is on a visit to India, had told reporters.
"This is a very special honour very rarely awarded