'He's a phenomenal leader' – Stokes and Buttler back Morgan amid England captaincy questions

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Ben Stokes hailed Eoin Morgan as a "phenomenal leader" and Jos Buttler also voiced his support amid questions over the England white-ball captain's role in the side.

Stokes has taken the Test captaincy by storm, winning his first two matches against the world Test champions New Zealand, while England have been playing white-ball fixtures in the Netherlands.

England coasted to an eighth straight ODI win on Wednesday, their longest run since a streak between January and May 2017 (also eight), to complete the series sweep over the Netherlands.

Morgan missed that outing in the Amsterdam suburbs due to a groin issue, but the 35-year-old failed to score a run in each of the first two games.

The England white-ball skipper has passed 50 just once in his last eight ODI innings since scoring 106 against Ireland in February 2020, but Stokes was quick to back Morgan.

"Well, he's only had two low scores so I wouldn't say he's going through a hard time at the moment," said Stokes as England prepare for the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley on Thursday.

"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.

"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 stepped in as captain against the Netherlands in the absence of Morgan, blasting an unbeaten 86 from 64 deliveries as England chased 245 in just 30.1 overs.

The absence of Morgan was labelled as a "precautionary issue" by England and Buttler assured his captain has the backing of the entire team.

"There's certainly no questioning of his position from within the camp," Buttler said. "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 over 200 ODIs – that doesn't just go away overnight. Everyone in the team is backing him."

The destructive white-ball form of Buttler has led to suggestions he could return to the England Test side, with Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum encouraging an aggressive brand of cricket.

Buttler acknowledged he is in the form of his life, but says there has been no contact regarding a return to the red-ball team.

"I'd have to say yes," said Buttler, when asked whether he was in the form of his life. "The IPL was incredibly special personally to have a tournament like that, I surprised myself.

"I think what's important for us in white-ball cricket in England is we talk about playing in a particular fashion and we must try and live that to the max.

"Of course, there's a bit of a risk element to that way of playing but it's what we ask of everyone."

"I haven't had any conversations with anyone about [the Test team]. I'm very happy with where I'm at, at the moment. It might not ever be a question that has to be answered."

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