Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Eight balls, no runs, two dismissals. Eoin Morgan's grim run of form has continued in England's ODI series against the Netherlands in Amstelveen and against the backdrop of his team-mates filling their boots, it has done nothing but heighten the scrutiny on his place in the side and his position as captain ahead of two white-ball World Cups in the next 17 months.
Morgan was trapped lbw while sweeping a straight ball from Pieter Seelaar, the Dutch left-arm spinner, in the first ODI while in Sunday's second fixture, he played out the last five balls of a maiden against Aryan Dutt's offspin and pushed his sixth from part-timer Tom Cooper to cover, before shaping to drag Cooper's wide offbreak over mid-on and ballooning a simple catch to point via the toe-end.
The rest day between the first and second ODIs marked the three-year anniversary of Morgan's record-breaking innings of 148 off 71 balls against Afghanistan at the 2019 World Cup which featured 17 sixes, seven of them off Rashid Khan. The contrast with his series this week, with two ducks at the hands of Dutch spinners, is stark, and Seelaar's own retirement due to a persistent back injury, announced shortly after Morgan's dismissal on Sunday, underlined the fact that at 35, the clock is ticking.
Morgan has now hit a single half-century - 75 not out against Sri Lanka, almost a year ago - in his last 50 innings across formats, including both domestic and international cricket. He said before this series that he would have to rest himself from some games this summer for his body to cope with England's busy white-ball schedule in July and while he insisted that he could "still contribute to a World Cup win", he added that England's defence of their 50-over title in India in October-November 2023 felt "a long way away".
Jason Roy, who made 77 in his 100th ODI for England, backed Morgan to come good again, saying that he was an innings away from removing any doubts over his ability. "We won the game so he put it to bed straight away," Roy said. "As soon as the result's there and we've won the game, he's happy.
"He's a knock away from everyone being all over him again. That's just the fickle nature of sport, unfortunately. If you're behind the eight-ball, it's quite tough. But he's an incredible worker, an incredible guy so I'd back him for sure."
Morgan has suffered similar lean patches throughout his career before clicking back into form and has often highlighted them when asked about his position as captain. Asked how Morgan could get through his slump, Roy said: "He'll know far better than me. He's played double the games I have. He'll know the answer."
Matthew Mott, England's new head coach, threw his support behind Morgan at the start of the tour, saying he was "a long way off" the point where he was no longer worth his place in the side as a batter and that he has "a lot of great cricket ahead of him".
England have a congested fixture list involving three ODIs and three T20Is against both India and South Africa in July and their white-ball players will then be involved in the Hundred from August 3-September 3, before a seven-match T20I tour to Pakistan in September-October. Morgan will need runs at some point in the next two months to take the spotlight off him.
Morgan's own struggles with the bat have been the exception in an otherwise dominant tour from England's batters in Amstelveen, with Sunday's six-wicket win sealing the series with a game to spare - though Wednesday's game is not a dead-rubber, with Super League points at stake.
"The boys have played really well again," Morgan said after Sunday's game. "They impressed with the ball - it's great to see Brydon Carse come in and hit the series with plenty of energy and pace and offer something different. With the bat, up top, Phil Salt again showing what he does at the top of the order and contributing in the fashion that he likes to alongside Jason Roy in his 100th game.
"Obviously we stuttered for a bit but managed to recalibrate a partnership and get something to get us over the line. The Netherlands batted first for a good reason - it did slow up and offer a little bit of turn, similar to the back-end of their innings - but we bat so deep these days that it might have been another 40 that would have troubled us."