ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Ireland and Zimbabwe unite in condemning a newspaper report, attacking Irish player John Mooney

Not often do we see an opposition team coming in support for a player of a rival cricket team and not often we also see two cricket teams coming together and joining hands to condemn a news report. The two in question here are the Zimbabwean and Irish cricket teams who joined hands to dismiss the Zimbabwe Herald news report, which had the headline, ‘Alcoholic dumps Zim out of WC’.  (ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Full Coverage)


The newspaper here pointed to Irish player John Mooney, mocking his battle with alcohol and depression. Mooney had taken a controversial catch of Sean Williams during the Ireland and Zimbabwe match last Saturday, which changed the complexion of the game and ensured an Irish victory.


The 33-year-old Mooney had suffered from depression and battled alcohol abuse in the past. He was forced to quit Ireland’s tour of the West Indies midway last year. Zimbabwe batsman Brendan Taylor, who was the stand-in captain in Saturday’sgame, issued an apology to Mooney on Wednesday. “On behalf of the Zimbabwe cricket team, we just want to express our apologies to @Irelandcricket and John Mooney for the unacceptable article,” tweeted Taylor, who scored 121 in the game, which his team lost by an agonising five runs.


The catch was taken when Zimbabwe required 32 to win off 20 balls and Williams was facing Kevin O’Brien. Williams, batting on 96, hooked the ball towards deep midwicket where Mooney reached high to grab the ball. There were doubts over whether the big Irishman had touched the boundary with his foot, which would have resulted in a six. The decision was reviewed and Williams was given out, much to disappointment to the team management.


“You’ve got to take his (Mooney’s) word for it,” said Taylor in the immediate aftermath of the game. The Zimbabwe Herald article questioned the Irishman’s credibility of claiming the catch and called it: “was a shameless piece of fielding dishonesty… is it possible for a person like Mooney to be trusted?”


Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom condemned the article as “crass” and represented a “gross error of judgement”.


“It would be easy to dismiss (the story) as a childish diatribe if it wasn’t for the vicious personal attack on John which cannot pass without comment, and possible action,” said Deutrom in a statement in a report on The Indian Express.

 “John represents his country with honour, distinction and integrity. That he does in the face of personal challenges about which he has spoken openly and movingly demonstrates incredible hard work and great courage. We understand, as does John, that public figures may occasionally be subject to negative comment, but in mocking John in such a contemptuous fashion, and using his personal difficulties as a mere punch-line, the Zimbabwe Herald has demonstrated breath-taking crassness and a gross error of editorial judgement,” concluded Deutrom.


Mooney started a signature petition against the article and has received support from several Zimbabwean players, who had come agonisingly close to a win on Saturday. One truly has to hail the Zimbabwean players for the fantastic sportsmanship and justifying the tag of ‘gentleman’s game.’