Plenty of praise has been thrown Ben Stokes' way since his man of the match performance at Mt Maunganui this week.

All thoroughly deserved and the game-changing allrounder is undeniably a big figure for England.

But how about the skipper?

It's worth noting Eion Morgan's performances so far on tour. He clattered an unbeaten 80 off 46 balls - six of which disappeared over the rope, a couple coming with remarkable flat bat slaps back down the ground - to set up a two-run T20 win in Hamilton. It wasn't enough to enable England to nudge New Zealand out of the tri-series final against Australia but it was a spectacular innings.


After missing out in the first ODI at the same ground, caught on the boundary off legspinner Ish Sodhi, he pushed England to victory at the Mount, with 62 off 63 balls - just three sixes this time, but one of them a memorable cut over the backward point fence - before sending a return catch back to medium pacer Colin Munro.

Morgan shapes as a serious player in this series.

The Dubliner was in charge of England at the last World Cup in 2015, albeit a dozen games into his tenure. He carried the embarrassment of a humiliating exit from the tournament - including a ferocious mauling by New Zealand at Wellington's Cake Tin, and a nine-wicket thrashing from Sri Lanka. They were England's last two ODIs on the ground where the third match of the current series will be played today.

Give him some serious credit for the resurgence of England as a limited-overs operation.

The story goes that he sat down with New Zealand's inspiring leader of the time, Brendon McCullum, in charge of a team playing vibrant, winning one-day cricket, and whose message was along the lines of "chill out, relax" and we now see the results in England's resurgence as a limited-overs force.

There's a touch of genius in some of the lefthander's shotmaking, piles of invention and that's made him a valuable commodity on the T20 circuits around the globe. It's worth pondering, and quietly shaking the head, that somehow there are five England players ranked higher in ODI batting than Morgan's 25th place.

He played just 16 tests before being dropped and his head turned more in the direction of white ball cricket, hugely to England's benefit. Of his 197 ODIs, he has led in 75 of them. He has his England team turning over nicely.

The bowlers appear a settled group for this series. They know their jobs and are delivering; Jason Roy, Joe Root and Stokes lead a strong batting group, who start assertively and simply carry on.


There's no real passage of sitting back and regrouping through the middle. The foot is down hard, and stays there.

Since the start of last year, England have passed 300 nine times out of 15 innings when batting first. That's a winning foundation more often than not. All impressive stuff.

And all led by a 31-year-old who has made himself one of the best in the business.