ENGLAND’S one-day captain Eoin Morgan was the target of a recent blackmail attempt, the England Cricket Board has announced.
The ECB said on Thursday it received an email from an Australian man demanding a “five-figure sum” to prevent him revealing details regarding a relationship Morgan had with a woman five years ago to newspapers in the UK and Australia.
ECB officials in Australia approached the man after discussions with the Metropolitan Police. The man concerned is currently in a relationship with the woman Morgan had a relationship with and, when confronted, he admitted and apologised for his actions.
ECB managing director Paul Downton said: “We will not allow anyone to disrupt our team’s preparation or performance in the Tri Series and as we build up to the World Cup.
“I am pleased that this issue has now been brought to a swift conclusion.
“At this point we’d like to thank the Metropolitan Police for their advice, which assisted us in dealing with this in the swiftest possible manner.”
The man blamed jealousy for his threats towards Morgan and the ECB said it would not be taking any further action at this stage.
A statement read: “The ECB will not allow anyone to disrupt our team’s performance on the field of play.
“We are wholly focused on winning cricket matches. This matter has now been brought to a conclusion and we will not be seeking further action against the individual at this stage.”
England are halfway through a Tri-Series with Australia and India as they continue to prepare for the World Cup, which starts on 14 February.
Morgan scored 121 against Australia last week in his first one-day international since replacing Alastair Cook as captain last month, but was unable to save England from defeat.
The tourists, however, bounced back with an excellent nine-wicket win over India on Tuesday ahead of a second match against Australia in Hobart, which got under way in the early hours of this morning.
Meanwhile, James Vince will captain the England Lions in their five-match one-day series against South Africa A.
The Hampshire batsman takes over from Jonathan Trott, who led the Lions in a drawn four-day series against South Africa A but was not included in the 50-over squad.
“It was a huge honour when our coach Mark Robinson asked me if I would lead the team,” said Vince.
“I have played under some great captains both at Hampshire and with the Lions, and I really enjoyed the captaincy experience I gained at Hampshire last summer.
“We have already seen from the four-day games that South Africa are tough opponents, and, if anything, their squad for the one-day series looks even stronger. But we also have some new faces in our squad and it is a challenge we are all relishing.”
Vince serves as Twenty20 captain at the Rose Bowl and scored an unbeaten 152 for the Lions in their final four-day game of the tour earlier in the week.
Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Harry Gurney, Samit Patel and Stephen Parry have all joined up with the squad ahead of the one-day series which begins in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
England Test captain Cook has been included in the MCC squad for the season-opening Champion County match against Yorkshire. But Cook will not skipper the side in Abu Dhabi, with that honour instead falling to his former international team-mate Nick Compton.
John Stephenson, MCC head of cricket, said: “This is certainly the strongest team we’ve ever selected for this fixture and I’m sure Nick Compton will lead the group expertly. Of course to have a batsman of Alastair Cook’s calibre involved shows the standing this fixture has in professional cricket and I’m delighted to have him at the top of the order.”
Cook and Compton are joined by Worcestershire’s Daryl Mitchell and Hampshire’s Michael Carberry in a squad heavy on opening batsmen. Surrey all-rounder Zafar Ansari batted at the top of the order for much of last season, while James Hildreth of Somerset is the other frontline batsman and Kent’s Sam Billings will keep wicket.
Matt Dunn of Surrey joins Durham pair Chris Rushworth and Graham Onions in the seam attack while Kent’s Adam Riley will vie with Ansari for spin bowling duties.
The MCC squad will also contest the Emirates Twenty20 tournament on 20 March along with Yorkshire, Lancashire and Sussex. Nepal captain Paras Khadka is part of the squad for the short format, along with an “international T20 star” to be announced next week.
The Champion County match takes place on 22 March and will be played under floodlights.