10/16/2012 02:50 EDT | Updated 12/15/2012 05:12 EST

Cricket great Sachin Tendulkar to receive Australian honour

CANBERRA, Australia - Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar is set to receive a rare civic honour from longtime on-field rival Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday said during her first visit to India as Australia’s leader that Tendulkar was to be made an honorary member of the Order of Australia.

The diminutive 39-year-old batsman has scored more runs in test and limited-overs cricket than any other player and is adored by fans in India and across the cricket world. He already has received the highest praise possible for a cricketer in Australia, with the great batsman Don Bradman reportedly telling his wife before he died that Tendulkar reminded him of himself.

Gillard told reporters Tendulkar helped strengthen the bond between Australia and India.

“I’m very pleased we’re going to confer on Sachin Tendulkar membership of the Order of Australia,” the Australian Broadcasting Corp. quoted Gillard as saying as she visited a Delhi cricket clinic. “This is a very special honour, very rarely awarded to someone who is not an Australian citizen or an Australian national.

“So a very special honour and a very special recognition of such a great batsman.”

Only three other non-Australian cricketers have received the award.

Tendulkar was in South Africa for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament during Gillard’s visit, and is expected to receive the award later from another Australian minister.

The "Little Master" _ as Tendulkar is affectionately known _ has played Australia more than any other cricketer, and has toured Down Under five times for Test series dating back to 1991.

He has played 190 test matches since his debut in 1989 and scored 15,533 runs including 51 centuries. In 463 limited-overs internationals, he has scored 18,426 runs and his 49 centuries in that format makes him the only batsman to have 100 international hundreds.

His 35 tests against Australia have netted 3,438 runs at an average of 57.30 and included 11 centuries.

Tendulkar has played 71 ODIs against Australia, scoring 3,077 runs at an average of 44.59. His first World Cup title involved a quarterfinal win over then defending champion Australia at India in 2011.