Factum point of view: Bowling for Sri Lanka

Factum point of view: Bowling for Sri Lanka

By Zeenath Ayub

Sri Lanka’s men’s cricket team picked up victory in their first warm-up match against Zimbabwe at the 2022 T20 World Cup earlier this week, ahead of their inaugural group stage encounter with Namibia, where they had to face defeat. Regardless of the latter, captain Dasun Shanaka and his team have been outstanding in their performances over the past few months at all of their major tournaments.

The six-week Australian tour to Sri Lanka which took place in June-July this year could be described as having improved the financial prospects of the struggling island nation. The tour not only injected money into the economy, but it was also used as a way to promote tourism through the launch of the ‘visit Sri Lanka’ campaign. It was more than money, however, for Sri Lankans grappling with their worst economic crisis since independence. It was also a ray of happiness, joy and excitement in difficult times.

The tour indeed brought smiles to millions of Sri Lankans, as the team emerged victorious in five of the 10 games played, including winning the One Day International (ODI) series. Sri Lankan fans were quick to express their gratitude to the Australian cricket team for traveling the country at an extremely difficult time. This was seen throughout the tour as fans carried banners and signs thanking the Australian team for visiting the country.

Sri Lanka’s back-to-back triumphs on this tour gave great hope and new strength to the team and the fans to qualify for the 2022 Asian Cup which was held around a month later. More excitement and joy followed with the news that Sri Lanka had been granted host rights for the tournament, considering that the country’s economic stability could be further enhanced due to the many benefits that would come from hosting one of the biggest sports tournaments in Asia.

However, shattering the hopes of all Sri Lankan cricket fans, the venue for the 2022 Asian Cup was moved to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) a fortnight before the start of the tournament, while Sri Lanka retained the reception rights. The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) was forced by the island’s economic and political instability to make this “difficult” decision, as the ACC chairman said.

However, the Sri Lankan players and the cricket board have made sure to make maximum use of the retained hosting rights to promote tourism throughout the 2022 Asian Cup tournament. It was quite evident that the nation Islander has taken up many strategies for this cause.

The most prominent of these strategies was the display of #visitSriLanka stickers on players’ bats. At the behest of the government, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board had sought permission from the ACC to use these stickers to support the country’s deteriorating tourism industry. Sri Lanka’s tourism ambassador and former cricket star Sanath Jayasuriya echoed those same sentiments.

The 2022 Asian Cup continued to be a success for Sri Lanka. Despite starting the tournament with an extremely painful loss to Afghanistan only to be called an underdog in the early days, Dasun Shanaka and Co. turned the tables for the Sri Lankan team at the tournament with a 2-wicket win on Bangladesh. A huge comeback followed when the country won every other Asian Cup match.

The celebrations culminated on September 11, with the Sri Lankan side becoming champions of the 2022 Asian Cup, a major cricket tournament victory for the country after eight years and a much-needed boost of spirit for more than 21 million hearts.

Added to the Asian Cup victory at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium is the Asian Netball Championship, brought to the country earlier the same day by Gayanjali Amrawansa and his team. The Sri Lankan netball team pulled off a massive victory over the Singapore team to claim victory in this tournament.

9/11 had more in store for the country. The Sri Lankan Legends team played their first-ever game against Australia Legends in the Road Safety World Series 2022, which had just started in India. Here too, Sri Lanka emerged victorious, making this day a historic day in the Sri Lankan sports calendar.

Sri Lanka Tourism brand ambassador, Sanath Jayasuriya, who was also part of the Sri Lankan Legends team playing in India, had called on Indians to visit Sri Lanka to support its economy.

Less than a month after these thrilling sporting victories, the Asian Cup Women’s Cricket Tournament has added more flavor to the sweetness of triumph. Sri Lanka’s women’s cricket team secured their place in the final of the tournament for the very first time in 14 years, defeating Pakistan in a hard-fought semi-final, and won the title of ‘runners-up’ in the finals. , disputed yesterday with an unexpected loss against the Indian women’s team.

All of these victories can potentially pave the way for the island nation to be recognized by the rest of the world, a way to gain more opportunities not only in sport but also unquestionably to resuscitate its dying economy. The upcoming Lanka Premier League (LPL) in December would also open doors for overseas players and would certainly work in the country’s favor to further bolster its struggling economy.

Zeenath Ayub is a research student at Factum and can be contacted at [email protected]

Factum is an Asia-Pacific focused think tank on international relations, technology cooperation and strategic communications accessible via www.factum.lk

About Adam Gray

Check Also

Toledo vs. Bowling Green odds, line: 2022 college football picks, MACtion predictions from proven simulation

Tuesday night, MACtion features the Bowling Green Falcons (5-5) on the road to face the …