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Jos Buttler backs Eoin Morgan as ODI captain after putting personal seal on England series win

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Published in Cricket
Wednesday, 22 June 2022 10:30
Jos Buttler has insisted that Eoin Morgan has the full support of the England dressing room despite his lean run with the bat after Ben Stokes claimed that Morgan's poor form was a media invention.
Morgan made two ducks in England's ODI series in the Netherlands and sat out of the third game with a groin injury, heightening the scrutiny over both his form and fitness. He has made one half-century across 48 white-ball innings - both domestic and international - across the last 18 months and has admitted that he will have to miss games in order to avoid muscle injuries ahead of October's T20 World Cup.
Buttler captained England in his absence in a thumping eight-wicket win on Wednesday and defended Morgan after the game, saying that nobody in the touring party had questioned his position and that his ability with the bat "doesn't just go away overnight".

"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."

Stokes, England's Test captain, had earlier defended Morgan's position while speaking at Headingley ahead of his side's third Test against New Zealand. "Well, he's only had two low scores, so I wouldn't say he's going through a hard time at the moment," Stokes said.

"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, who was captaining in his ninth ODI after Morgan's injury, found out that he would lead the side on Tuesday night and said that he still felt as though he was learning on the job as captain. "I was disappointed for Morgs to miss out but it's a good challenge and an honour any time you get to captain the team.

"I did enjoy it. It's a different challenge, of course, trying to work that and [it's something that] I've got to learn about. We bowled really well today: we probably created a couple of chances at the start where maybe we could have picked up a couple more wickets there, but the way we came back and took wickets at a great time to restrict them made it a fantastic bowling display.

"I'd say it's too early to have a [captaincy] style, really. I've got to try and be myself. I'm not Eoin, I can't try to be him, so I'll just have to - when I get to do it - try to be myself and be open to learning about it really."

Buttler made 86 not out off 64 balls on Wednesday to finish the series with 248 runs (including 19 sixes) off 134 balls without being dismissed. He hit 162 not out in England's world-record total in the first ODI before sliding down the order and not batting in the second. He came into the series fresh after a short break following his MVP-winning season at the IPL for Rajasthan Royals and said he feels as though he is in the form of his life.

"The IPL was incredibly special, personally," he said. "To have a tournament like that, I surprised myself and I really enjoyed that - and I learned a lot about my batting. When you get to a place like that, [it's about] being hungry to continue that.

"I look at someone like Joe Root who has been a great example to us in English cricket, he's scored runs after runs and wants to continue that and that's a great example to anyone that when you're in good form, you have to make the most of it.

"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. Each individual has to continue to take that forward."

Buttler will take another short break after this series but plans to play "a couple" of games for Lancashire at the end of the T20 Blast group stage before England's white-ball series against India and South Africa in July. "Everyone's desperate to play as much cricket as they can, but there's a lot of cricket coming up in a short space of time," he said. "You've got to look after people."

He batted at No. 4 in both of his innings in the series and said he was open to doing so on a regular basis in the future if required, and shut down questions about the prospect of a return to the Test side. "I haven't had any conversations with anyone about that," he said. "I'm very happy with where I'm at, at the moment: it might not ever be a question that has to be answered."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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