After a month passed from the year 2023 and everyone is desperately waiting to see the action of the world sport arena. It’s worthwhile to go back and see how different countries finished sports in 2022. It was an action packed year for world sports after coming out from the pandemic; however it was a mixed fortune for Sri Lanka and Aotearoa. Because, both nations had ups and downs in sports in 2022. Let’s see who performed well in each sport.
It was a fantastic year for Sri Lanka in Cricket compared to Black Caps because the Lions won the T20 Asia Cup by beating giant Pakistan after 8 years for the 6th time. Prior to this, Sri Lankans won the ODI series against Australia after 30 years. However, Lankan cricketers did not perform well in the T20 World cup in Australia where they gave the media to criticize their performance again. Once again Sri Lankan top spinner/all rounder Wanidu Hasaranga took 15 wickets to become most wicket taker in the tournament. Sri Lankan women emerged runner up in the 2022 Asia cup after reaching the finals for the first time in 14 years of history. Inoka Ranaweera bagged 13 wickets to share the most wicket taker of the tournament with Indian Deepti Sharma. Sri Lankan men are ranked 8th in both ODI and T20 in ICC rankings. Their Test ranking was 7th but they are in 3rd spot in 2021-2023 ICC Test championship.
The Black Caps haven’t really had a great year in Cricket. Start of the year both the Bangladesh and South Africa test series ended in draws. Netherlands lost to the Black Caps 3-0 in April. In England Black Caps lost 3-0 test series to England but whitewashed Ireland in both ODI and T20s. The Black Caps won the ODI and T20 series against West Indies before losing the ODI series against Kangaroos. They lost to Pakistan in their Tri nations final in Christchurch. Also, lost the home T20 series to India but beat them in rain affected ODI series later. The Black Caps were promising in the T20 world cup by finishing top of their group. But once again they lost to Pakistan in the semis to be knocked out from the tournament. Glen Philip’s bat was well tuned throughout the tournament. End of 2022 Black Caps are ranked 5th in both Test and T20s. But they are the number one ODI team in the ICC ranking to be proud of something they achieved in 2022.
The All Blacks had one of the horrific years in their rugby. They lost their home series to Ireland, lost to Argentina on home soil during Autumn and their performance was well criticized in the media. Especially the Head Coach Ian Foster’s job was online and two of his Assistant coaches were sacked. But they managed to win the Bledisloe cup and the Rugby championship in the end. AB’S were ranked 3rd behind 1st Ireland and 2nd France in 2022 by heading to the 2023 Rugby World cup in France. On the other hand, Black Ferns made Kiwis proud by winning the women’s Rugby World cup by beating tournament favorites England in the finals here in Eden Park. Also, Men and women 7s teams paired Bronze in the Commonwealth games in Birmingham in 2022. Meanwhile Sri Lankan Tuskers knocked out in Group stages in Commonwealth games. Tuskers were not highlighted in the Asian stage during 2022 and they had a really tough year too.
Commonwealth Games and Athletics
New Zealand had a fantastic year in Commonwealth Games by winning 49 medals in total, their highest ever that included a record number of 20 Gold, 12 Silver and 17 Bronze where they finished 5th in the medal table. Meanwhile Sri Lanka won Silver and 3 Bronze in the games, Nethmi Poruthotage went to history books by winning the first ever Bronze in women Wrestling. It was a fantastic year for Sri Lankan sprinter Yupun Abeykoon who won the Bronze in the games and prior to that he became the first man to finish 100m below 10 seconds by clocking 9.96 sec in Switzerland. Tokyo Paralympics’ Bronze Medalist Samitha Dulan Kodithuwakku has set a new World Record in the F44 Javelin Category Finals by throwing 66.60m at the National Para Athletics Championship in June. Overall both countries had a great year in Athletics and field events on the world stage.
The Sri Lankan women cagers produced their best ever performance in 2022 to win the SABA (South Asian Basketball Association) cup. Compared to that Tall Blacks was first time on the podium by winning their first ever Bronze medal in Men’s FIBA Asia cup by beating Jordan.
New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox stormed to a second place finish in the penultimate event on the DP World Tour in South Africa to earn $1.105M. Fox has moved up a few slots to fourth in the DP World Tour rankings. With 2138 points in the bag, he trails only American Will Zalatoris (2572), Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (2366) and Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick (2246). A winner will be crowned after 45 tournaments, played across 24 countries, with the top five players earning a portion of a US$5 million bonus pool. Fox finished 82nd last year. Meanwhile Kiwi Lydia Ko equally had a great year in Golf ranked Number one in the world at the end of 2022. She first achieved the top ranking in 2015 at 17 years, 9 months and 9 days of age, making her the youngest player of either gender to be ranked No. 1 in professional golf. Ko recorded three victories in 2022 at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, the BMW Ladies Championship and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship where she took home a $2 million winner’s cheque, the largest first-place prize in the history of women’s golf.
When we talk about Sri Lankan Motor Racing there is only one brand in the country. That is legendary Motor Racer Dilantha Malagamuwa. It may be hard to compare him to Kiwi racer Shane van Gisbergen because they are in two different eras and classes. However, Shane van Gisbergen had his best year in his career by winning 21 from his 34 starts in what was the winningest season in history. Since Bathurst 2020, van Gisbergen has taken his career wins tally from 39 to 75 in supercar. He is driving a Number 97 Holden ZB Commodore car for Triple Eight Race Engineering.
Sri Lankan Netballers won the Asian Championship for the sixth time when they beat host nation Singapore 63-53 in the finals on the same day that Lions lifted the Cricket Asian Championship. This was a proud moment for all Sri Lankans around the world. Meantime Silver ferns lost to Australian Diamonds in the Constellation Cup 2022. Silver Ferns won the Bronze in the commonwealth games in Birmingham.
Few weeks back we all witnessed 2022 Football world cup winners Argentina in Qatar by beating defending champions France in the finals. All whites last played in the world cup in 2010 in South Africa and failed to reach the tournament this year. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan footballers lost all their 3 qualifying matches in the AFC Asia cup in June.
Sri Lankans won the 3rd place in Men’s AHF cup in Indonesia in March. Lankans were top of their group and lost to Oman in the semis but beat Kazakhstan to finish 3rd. Black sticks were unfortunate in the commonwealth games where both men and women failed to reach the podium.
2022 both nations had proud moments in sports and represented their countries on world stages. During the year we saw there were few occasions that both nations came closer to put their names top of the world but unfortunately fell short. Overall we can be proud of our nations and what our sportsmen and sportswomen did for us to make ourselves prouder and happier. This is the best time to say thank you and show our true respect to the people who committed to the sports in both countries during this difficult period. Good luck! for 2023 to bring us more silverware to our countries.
By Nilanga Daldeniya