Zimbabwe and Ireland strongly condemned a newspaper article on Wednesday (March 11) which mocked John Mooney’s battle with alcohol and depression.
Mooney, the Irish allrounder, took a questionable catch near the boundary rope, which helped the side eliminate Zimbabwe from the World Cup in Hobart last Saturday. But his match-winning efforts were lampooned in the Zimbabwe Herald with the headline: “Alcoholic dumps Zim out of WC”
Mooney has suffered from depression and battled alcohol abuse in the past and was forced to withdraw from Ireland’s tour of the West Indies last year.
Brendan Taylor, who was the stand-in captain in Saturday’s game in the absence of Elton Chigumbura, issued an apology to Mooney.
“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 made 121 in the game his team lost by an agonising five runs.
On behalf of the Zimbabwe cricket team.We just want to express our apologies to @Irelandcricket and John Mooney for the unacceptable article
— Brendan Taylor (@BrendanTaylor86) March 11, 2015
The catch came in the 47th over of the game, with Zimbabwe needing 32 runs to win from 20 balls. Zimbabwe were cruising with Sean Williams and Regis Chakabva at the crease when Williams struck the ball in the direction of midwicket off Kevin O’Brien. Mooney took the catch on the edge, but replays weren’t decisive enough to suggest that he had touched the ropes. As the decision was reviewed, Williams left the field and the catch stood.
“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, claiming the catch “was a shameless piece of fielding dishonesty … is it possible for a person like Mooney to be trusted?”
— Sikandar Raza (@SRazaB24) March 11, 2015
Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland’s chief executive, slammed the article as “crass” and said it 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. “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 punchline, the Zimbabwe Herald has demonstrated breath-taking crassness and a gross error of editorial judgement.”