Ben Stokes backs 'phenomenal leader' Eoin Morgan to remain as captain

By Timothy AbrahamBBC Sport
Ben Stokes embraces Eoin Morgan
Ben Stokes, left, has not played in the series against the Netherlands because of his Test commitments

England Test captain Ben Stokes has thrown his support behind "phenomenal leader" Eoin Morgan during an indifferent spell of form for his limited-overs counterpart.

Morgan made consecutive ducks in one-day internationals against the Netherlands, twice out to the Dutch spinners in favourable batting conditions, and has just one half-century in 26 white-ball innings for England.

The 35-year-old missed England's third ODI in Amstelveen on Wednesday with an ongoing groin problem and has previously struggled with longstanding back and knee injuries.

"I think the press are the only ones giving him a hard time and I think the players have shown it's not an issue with them," Stokes said.

Morgan's struggles for form and fitness in the Netherlands, when the runs have flowed for England's other batters, have inevitably led to question marks over whether he should retain the captaincy.

England have an intense July with three T20Is and three ODIs against both India and South Africa to come with the T20 World Cup in Australia, by which time Morgan will be 36, later this year.

Jos Buttler, who has long been touted as England's next white-ball captain, filled for Morgan in the final ODI but Stokes was vocal in his support of Morgan to continue.

"He's only had two low scores so I wouldn't say he's going through a hard time at the moment," Stokes said.

"People are allowed to not score many runs, and more than that he's our captain.

"He's a phenomenal leader and always will be so I've got no issues with anything going on with him at the moment."

Buttler also stands by Morgan

Buttler is seen as Morgan's heir apparent and is currently in the batting form of his life.

The 31-year-old, who starred in the recent Indian Premier League, picked up the player of the series award after England's comfortable eight-wicket win over the Netherlands.

Buttler scored 248 runs off 134 balls over the three matches, without losing his wicket, and at a strike-rate of 185.07, hitting 19 sixes - more than the 11 hit by the rest of his England team-mates.

But Buttler, who has six wins as captain in nine ODIs, backed Morgan to overcome his batting demons and continue as skipper.

He said: "There's certainly no questioning of his position from within the camp. I can't put into words what he's achieved.

"Everyone always talks about his captaincy but you forget what a brilliant batsman he's been for England in more than 200 ODIs.

"That doesn't just go away overnight. Everyone in the team is backing him."

On skippering England, Buttler added: "I'm disappointed for Morgs to miss out but it's a good challenge and an honour to captain the team.

"I did enjoy it. I find it's a different challenge, of course. I've got to work that out.

"It's too early to have [my own] a style. I've got to try to be myself. I can't try to be him."

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