Cricket: Tributes to `the greatest living Australian'

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JOHN HOWARD, Australia's Prime Minister, yesterday described Sir Donald Bradman as the "greatest living Australian" as he led the tributes to mark the 90th birthday today of the country's legendary cricketer.

The high point will be a dinner tonight in Adelaide, Bradman's home city. Hosted by the South Australian Cricket Association, the Grand Bradman Dinner will be attended by some of Australia's leading Test cricketers, past and present, including Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Greg Chappell, Rodney Marsh and David Hookes.

There will be 1,150 guests, and the event is expected to raise A$100,000 (pounds 35,000) for the expansion of the Bradman Collection, which includes some of Sir Donald's own cricketing memorabilia, in the State Library of South Australia.

The most glaring absentee from the dinner will be Bradman himself. He politely declined, as he does to almost every invitation. Instead, he is expected to have a quiet dinner with members of his family at his Adelaide home.

Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian player who is ranked the world's leading batsman, was due to arrive in Australia last night for the official dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre. There were reports that Tendulkar would have a private meeting with Bradman at his home before the dinner, and that Shane Warne would accompany him.

Bradman said in a rare television interview in 1996 that Tendulkar was the player who most reminded him of himself. "I was very, very struck by his technique," Bradman said then. "I asked my wife to come and look at him... She said, `Yes, there is a similarity'."

Among the tributes from Australian cricketers, Steve Waugh said in a book celebrating Bradman's 90th birthday: "He is the symbol of Australian cricket, the heartbeat, the inspiration, the image of all that is good in sport and life in general."