John Mooney's catch to dismiss Sean Williams - Was it really out?
It was the fifth ball of the 47th over. Zimbabwe needed 32 runs to win. They had 4 wickets in hand and 20 balls to score those runs in. Sean Williams, batting on 96, cleared his front foot and went for the big shot over mid-wicket, but only managed to find John Mooney on the boundary. OUT! Or was he? Did Mooney touch the boundary cushion with the ball in hand?
Catch or no catch?
Everything in the match rested on this. A wicket, and victory would be in sight for Ireland, but a six would mean that that the African country needed just 26 runs to win from 19 deliveries with Williams batting on 102*.
The on-field umpires immediately took the matter to the third umpire who had a tough decision to make. The third umpire took a long time to make his call and by the time he could make a decision, Willaims had already walked away, having taken Mooney’s word that the catch was clean.
It looked like the third umpire also decided that it was a clean catch and Williams was dismissed on 96, in what will certainly go down as one of the most heart-breaking moments in the history of the World Cup. Zimbabwean coach Dave Whatmore was clearly fuming at the third umpire’s decision after the dismissal.
Former Australian cricketer Tom Moody, who was on commentary during the incident, wasn’t convinced by the decision and stated that he thought Mooney had touched the boundary and that was indicated by a slight movement of the cushion. In the post-match analysis, former English captain Michael Atherton agreed with Moody’s view that it should have been a six.
Zimbabwe’s stand-in skipper Brendan Taylor confirmed that Williams took Mooney’s word on the catch and had, therefore, gone back to the dressing room without waiting for the third umpire’s decision.
Interesting, Joel Wilson, the third umpire here, was also the third umpire when the James Taylor run-out controversy occurred in the match between Australia and England earlier on in the tournament.
What about Mooney’s shadow?
There was another view that the slight movement on the boundary cushion could have been a result of an optical illusion because of Mooney’s shadow.
In the end, this delivery turned out to be the deciding factor in the match as the Irish won by just 5 runs. But Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) were clearly not convinced by the decision and took to Twitter to express their disappointment.
You can watch the dismissal here and decide for yourself.