Robson Sharuko in MELBOURNE, Australia
THE dramatic fallout related to Ireland’s controversial win over Zimbabwe continued to play out with Irish cricket authorities launching a vicious attack on The Herald for questioning all-rounder John Mooney’s honesty in the wake of his ghost catch that knocked the Chevrons out of the World Cup. Cricket Ireland chiefs pledged to take action against The Herald for leading the outrage that followed Mooney’s controversial dismissal of Sean Williams, when the batsman had been set to get his century and lead Zimbabwe over the line, in that match in Hobart on Saturday.
Mooney appeared to step on the boundary, which should have given Williams his six and taken Zimbabwe a step closer to a victory that would have kept them in this World Cup, but the Irish all-rounder claimed a clean catch even though television replays suggested otherwise.
Former Zimbabwe Sports Minister David Coltart described Mooney’s debatable catch as cricket’s version of Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God goal against England that knocked the Three Lions out of the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
He was not alone among the voices that thundered in disapproval, across the world, with some even suggesting that Zimbabwe had been cheated out of the World Cup.
Brendan Taylor, the stand-in Zimbabwe captain in the absence of injured skipper Elton Chigumbura, said while the spirit of the game was to trust the fielder, in such controversy, television replays had showed that Mooney had stamped on the boundary.
On Monday, The Herald questioned how Mooney could be trusted to make an honest call, in such a high-stakes incident, against the background of the cricketer’s recent battles with alcohol abuse and depression.
However, that article appears to have angered Cricket Ireland chiefs who pledged to take action against the newspaper and revealed they had also approached the International Cricket Council to seek redress.
Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom described the article as a vicious attack.
“In relation to the story that has appeared in today’s Zimbabwe Herald, it would be easy to dismiss it as a childish diatribe if it wasn’t for the vicious personal attack on John which cannot pass without comment, and possible action,” he said 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 breathtaking crassness and a gross error of editorial judgment.
“We have made contact with ICC to understand what remedies might be available to us.”
Irish newspapers also captured the disappointment among their cricket chiefs in the wake of the article published in The Herald this week.
“Irish cricket chiefs have been left outraged after a Zimbabwean newspaper sunk to new lows and printed a headline reading: ‘Alcoholic dumps Zim out of WC’,” the Independent of Ireland reported.
“The headline refers to Ireland’s win over Zimbabwe last Saturday in the Cricket World Cup, a win that was ultimately sealed when John Mooney caught a ball on the boundary.
“Zimbabwe looked like running down the record chase until a debatable Mooney catch.
“Replays appeared to show Mooney had stepped on the rope when he held on to remove Sean Williams, who was four short of a century and seemingly in control of the pursuit.
“The third umpire was called to judge the catch, although Williams did not remain on the field of play after he instead opted to take the word of Mooney that he had taken the catch inside the rope.
“Now, one of Zimbabwe’s largest selling newspapers, which is State-owned, has published a disgraceful article where they question the integrity of Mooney and bring up his past when he fought a battle with alcohol and depression.
“The scurrilous article was written by a journalist called Robson Sharuko for the Zimbabwe Herald and is available to read online.”
The article, said the Independent, suggests that; “Mooney will not get many beer offers should he come to a Harare pub soon and for good reason too.
“Some have even gone to the extent of calling him a cheat, and it’s something that he probably deserves.
“For a man of such character, who has so much weighing down on his shoulders, it was very unlikely that, in the defining moment of such a big game, he could be trusted to have the honesty, let alone the decency, to concede that his foot touched the boundary.”
The Irish Examiner said Cricket Ireland had expressed their disgust over what they believed was an inflammatory article about Mooney.
“The article centres around a contentious decision in the match between Ireland and Zimbabwe on March 7,” the newspaper reported.
“Mooney appeared to step on the boundary line when he caught a ball to dismiss Zimbabwe’s Sean Williams, who was closing in on a century at the bat.
“Williams’ accepted Mooney’s word that he had not and left the field, and Ireland went on to win the game by five runs.
“The article in The Herald described Mooney’s move as a shameful piece of fielding dishonesty that has soiled this global cricket showcase.
“The article also launched a very personal attack on Mooney’s character, based on an interview the cricketer did on 2fm last year when he described honestly his personal battle with mental health issues and alcohol abuse.”