England skipper Alastair Cook admits the severity of his side’s hammering during the fourth Test in Mumbai and series drubbing against India will force him to consider his future as captain.
Cook, who has led England since 2012, plans to hold talks with director of cricket Andrew Strauss in the New Year and, should he abdicate, has indicated that vice-captain and heir-apparent Joe Root is ready to assume the reins.
While England’s series defeat to India, confirmed by Monday's thrashing by an innings and 36 runs, was only their second in 10, they have now lost seven Tests in 2016. Defeat in the fifth Test in Chennai, which starts on Friday, would make it England’s worst year since 1993.
“Of course you have questions, naturally you look at stuff,” said Cook, who has captained his country more times than anyone else but appeared to suggest pre-Tour that he would relish focusing solely on his batting.
“The comments I made [at the start of the series] have not changed anything. It sticks true to the end of this series. I will sit down with Straussy at the end of the year. We have made that pact to talk honestly and openly about stuff.
“My position would not have changed if we had won this game or lost this game.”
Cook relinquishing the captaincy after the current tour would give his successor – Root is the obvious candidate – two home series against South Africa and West Indies during the summer of 2017 before an Ashes showdown in Australia next winter.
“I think Joe Root is ready to captain England,” added Cook. “You never know until you actually experience everything that comes with the England captaincy. You are thrown in at the deep end and you kind of sink or swim.
“He is ready because he is a clued up guy, he has the respect of everyone in the changing room. He has not got much captaincy experience but that does not mean everything.
“Being captain of England is a huge honour. You are at the forefront of the team and it comes onto your shoulders when you win or lose. In the heat of battle you make decisions. You go to bed at night and you have to live with making good or bad decisions.”
World No1-ranked Test side India required just 48 balls of the final day’s play to secure victory over a wilting England and establish a commanding 3-0 series lead. Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 6-55 and match figures of 12-167.
The fourth Test ended in controversy, however, as Ashwin and other Indian fielders confronted tail-ender James Anderson, who had questioned captain Virat Kohli’s technique and ability in English conditions.
“Ashwin wasn’t pleased with what he said,” said Cook. “He wasn’t too impressed and he let him know, not using any bad words honestly.”