Group Captain Sachin: The cricketer in another blue and wings (Lead)

September 3rd, 2010 - 9:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) In a light blue terrycot half-sleeve shirt, silk rank braid on his shoulders and collar tags of an Indian Air Force (IAF) group captain - that is Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, the cricketing wonder of India, in his new innings and uniform.
Tendulkar may have achieved many cricketing heights in the last two decades, but Friday was “a memorable moment” for the batting maestro as he donned a new cap and the blue outfit of the IAF.

He was conferred with the IAF’s honorary rank of group captain to honour his achievements and contributions to the nation in the cricketing field.

With this, Tendulkar becomes the first sportsperson of India to be conferred the IAF honorary rank. The 37-year-old batsman also became the first to receive the honour with no aviation background.

Kapil Dev, India’s 1983 World Cup winning captain, was given the honorary rank of lieutenant colonel of the Territorial Army in 2008.

Tendulkar was ceremoniously inducted into the force as its brand ambassador at an event here when IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik presented the cricketer his rank.

“It’s a great pleasure and honour. I cannot say it’s even a dream come true. It was a wishful thinking and it has come true today,” said Tendulkar, looking fetching in an IAF uniform.

With the shirt, he was wearing blue grey terrycot trousers, a narrow blue grey nylon belt with the chrome plated IAF crest on the buckle, a peak cap, black shoes and the grey name tab of “Sachin Tendulkar”.

The only things missing on the uniform were entitled ribbons, decorations and an entitled aircrew badge on his chest.

“As soon as he flies, we will give him the wings,” Naik told reporters, adding that the highest run getter in both Test and limited over matches would be flown in the SU-30 “when he gets time from his busy schedule”.

And Tendulkar connected well with his audience well when asked to speak. “My senior colleagues,” he said, to loud clapping from the gathering full of senior IAF officials, including the only living five-star rank officer Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh.

Tendulkar said he was “extremely proud to be part of IAF”.

And he urged the youth to “join the air force and serve the nation. So dream, because dreams do come true”.

Earlier, President Pratibha Patil had conferred the honorary rank of the IAF on the iconic batsman on June 23 this year. The rank was conferred under the provision of granting honorary rank by the armed forces to eminent personalities to acknowledge their contribution towards the nation.

Till date, 21 eminent personalities have been granted honorary ranks by the IAF, the first being the Raja of Jawhar Yashwant Rao, who was conferred the flight lieutenant’s rank in 1944. Industrialist J.R.D. Tata was made an honorary air vice marshal in 1974, and the last one to get such an honour, in 1990, was industrialist-cum-aviator Vijaypat Singhania, who is now an honorary air commodore.

Naik said that besides recognition of his contributions, Tendulkar’s association with the force would motivate the younger generation to join the IAF.

“Youth admires him. I think the youth will get inclined towards the Air Force. We are hopeful.”

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