Mooney makes point after protest blocked
John Mooney let his bowling do the talking in Belfast yesterday and walked away with the man-of-the-match award as Ireland began their World T20 qualifying campaign with a seven-wicket victory over Namibia, Writes David Townsend.
Mooney, who has been one of the most vocal opponents of plans to reduce the next 50-overs World Cup to 10 teams, had proposed that Associate teams should protest by wearing black armbands during the qualifying tournament that Ireland are jointly hosting with Scotland.
The ICC, the world governing body, stepped into block that rebellion so instead Mooney channelled his frustrations into a superb early burst at Stormont that gave him figures of 3-23 from four overs and helped restrict Namibia to 124-8.
Skipper William Porterfield hit an unbeaten half-century in reply and Niall O'Brien chanced his arm for 45 from 40 balls as the holders and tournament favourites eased home with 16 balls to spare.
"It wasn't quite 10pc as I bowled a wide and was hit for six there at the end, but I'm pretty happy with that," Mooney said. "Namibia are a dangerous side and beat us in the opening match of these qualifiers a few years back."
New coach John Bracewell sought to stamp his mark on what is still Phil Simmons' team by using the minimum five bowlers - the first time Ireland have done that in 24 T20 matches - and opening the batting with O'Brien instead of Porterfield.
The skipper, coming in at No 3, enjoyed lives on nought and five but grow into the role and made 56 not out from 44 balls.
"I think it's a great move pushing Niall up to open," Mooney said. "You might think with Ed Joyce retired from T20s we might lack a bit of experience at No 3, but then you see Porty slotting in there and he was class.
"We have a day off now before playing the USA and we will try to stay focussed. I see us winning again if we play properly but if we take our eye off the ball it'll be a difficult game."