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Blackmail saga had no impact - Morgan

England captain Eoin Morgan denied he was distracted by the blackmail attempt against him in the lead-up to his side's comfortable defeat in the triangular series match in Hobart.

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
Eoin Morgan went for a golden duck, Australia v England, Carlton Mid Tri-Series, Hobart, January 23, 2015

Eoin Morgan was dismissed for golden duck in Hobart  •  Getty Images

England captain Eoin Morgan denied he was distracted by the blackmail attempt against him in the lead-up to his side's comfortable defeat in the triangular series match in Hobart.
Morgan was dismissed for a first ball duck in the wake of revelations that a local man had threatened to reveal details of a past relationship he had in Australia if a substantial sum was not paid. But Morgan said he had been allowed to get on with preparing for the match by the ECB.
The woman involved told the Herald Sun newspaper that because of the attempted extortion her life had been "ruined" and she had ended the relationship with her boyfriend, who was named in the Australian media as Tasmanian workplace consultant Nick Emery.
"It hasn't been distracting at all. I spoke with the ECB yesterday and again I was very happy for them to deal with it and they told me just to focus on the cricket 100% and I've done that. I was very comfortable with them looking after the situation," Morgan said. "I'm happy it's all been cleared and everything is over and I can get on with my cricket, which I managed to do today."
Morgan brushed off attempts to link his first ball duck to the blackmail attempt. "No. I don't think it was easy coming in," he said. "The ball was reverse swinging right throughout the innings. Jos Buttler came in after me and found it difficult. I nicked one. It happens."
The duck Morgan made was part of England's failure to build effectively on a dominant platform after 40 overs - a tally of 303 for 8 was meagre reward for the 244 for 2 compiled with 60 deliveries remaining. Morgan agreed his men had to show more ambition, but also said they had seldom faced death bowling of the standard produced by Australia after a more indifferent start with the new balls.
"We were very dominant in the first 40 overs and set ourselves up for a commanding total," Morgan said. "Somewhere around 340-plus would have been the score we were looking for but we didn't manage to get there. It is frustrating but it's still very early in the trip and we are making strides.
"One of the areas we'll look at again is those last ten overs against high-quality death bowling. If we come up against that more often than not we'll learn as we go along. Today is a learning curve for us. The sky's the limit batting first and that's the atmosphere we want to create. The first 40 overs were the perfect template about what we're all about."
There was also a prediction from Morgan that more teams will be inclined to chase during the looming World Cup, particularly if conditions continued to resemble those found in the triangular series so far - swing and spin being minimal and run-making less arduous than in other parts of the world.
"I think the more cricket you play perhaps the more cynical you get and you'd prefer to have direction about what you're doing as a batting unit," he said. "You'll find sides will chase more often than not especially if the ball doesn't reverse like it did today. If you play on the lush grounds with drop in pitches then I think you will see people chase."
Meanwhile, Mitchell Johnson will re-join Australia's ODI squad in Sydney on Saturday after a period away from the team for personal reasons, rather than the hamstring soreness he was said to be suffering from when withdrawn from the SCG Test against India.
Not even the players were informed of precisely why Johnson was away from the team, and his absence eventually extended for a match longer than first suggested. It was thought Johnson would return in time for Friday's match in Hobart, but he will now be back with the squad for the Australia Day match against India in Sydney, which has lost some edge for the hosts after victory at Bellerive Oval sent them through to the final.
David Warner will also be back, while Steven Smith is set to hand the captaincy reins over to George Bailey, who has now served his one match suspension for a second minor over rate offence within 12 months. Shane Watson's tight hamstring is on the mend too, allowing Australia to have far closer to a full squad to pick from after no fewer than three extra players had to be called in to Hobart.
"I think Mitch is joining us in Sydney . . . George Bailey will be back and, as far as I know, David Warner will be back as well," Smith said following his latest unbeaten century. "I'm not really sure though. We'll see what Rod Marsh, has to say, whether Warner needs more rest or not."
"For us it's about trying to win every game we can. Momentum is a good thing in limited-overs cricket and hopefully we can keep up this momentum and keep playing some good cricket going into the final of the tri-series and then the World Cup as well."
As for his own sublime touch, Smith is old and wise enough to know that such streaks cannot last forever. "It's all going well at the moment," he said. "I know the game can change pretty quickly and I've got to try to score as many runs as I can while I'm in this kind of form. I'm just really satisfied we were able to chase down 304 tonight and win another game and get ourselves into the tri-series final."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig