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ICC World Cup: Uproar over Zimbabwe newspaper's 'alcoholic' jibe on Mooney

The Zimbabwe and Ireland teams at the World Cup united Wednesday to condemn a newspaper article which mocked Irish all-rounder John Mooney's battle with alcohol and depression

Hamilton: Stand-in captain Brendan Taylor on Wednesday apologised on behalf of Zimbabwe cricket team for an article published by one of his country's daily criticising Ireland pacer John Mooney over his boundary-line catch on Saturday that ended the hopes of the African side in the World Cup.

Mooney took the boundary catch which eliminated the Africans from the World Cup in Hobart last Saturday. But his match-winning efforts were greeted in the Zimbabwe Herald under the headline: "Alcoholic dumps Zim out of WC", mocking the Irish all-rounder's battle with alcohol and depression.

John Mooney
John Mooney

"On behalf of the Zimbabwe cricket team, we just want to express our apologies to @Irelandcricket and John Mooney for the unacceptable article," Taylor wrote on Twitter.

His statement came after Cricket Ireland said it is considering legal action against Zimbabwe Herald after it published a heavily criticised article on Mooney, reports cricket.com.au.

Ireland were playing against India on Tuesday when the piece by Zimbwawe Herald journalist Robson Sharuko was published online, and immediately drew widespread condemnation from its readers and across social media.

Taylor shared a fifth-wicket stand of 149 with Sean Williams (96) but the game -- and Zimbabwe's future in the tournament -- turned with Zimbabwe needing 32 to win off 20 balls when Williams hooked Kevin O'Brien 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.

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?"

Sharuko's report connects the catch to Mooney's battle with alcohol and depression, which the Ireland pacer bravely detailed on radio in a bid to raise awareness about mental health issues for cricketers.

The personal nature of the accusations prompted Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom to speak out.

"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," Deutrom 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."

Deutrom added: "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."

"We have made contact with ICC to understand what remedies might be available to us."

However, Taylor opted to blame his side's poor effort on the field for the loss as Ireland posted 8-331.

"We were shambolic, to be honest, in the field," Taylor said after the match on Saturday.

"Again we've dropped chances at crucial times and that was the difference between Ireland and us. I think they were more hungry and they were a bit more energetic... hence why they got over the line."

Zimbabwe play their final pool match against India at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday.

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