Alastair Cook has indicated his time as England captain could be close to an end after the one-day international series against Australia was meekly conceded in Sydney.
England have endured a horror tour Down Under, losing all eight games against Australia in 86 days on tour including the 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
That has left the spotlight on their 29-year-old captain and, after the defeats have piled up, Cook has conceded it has left him contemplating his future.
“I’m going to have to make a decision on that after you take stock of the next two games [to end the series],” he said. “We’ll sit down and talk over a lot of things. There will be some changes. English cricket needs a little bit of a change as well.
“The last few months we haven’t played the cricket we are capable of. We have to look at the reasons why.”
Cook was given the backing to remain in charge by the England and Wales Cricket board during the fifth Test in Sydney a fortnight ago. Asked if he felt his position has been undermined since, Cook added: “I don’t really want to get dragged into my position. It’s been two weeks since someone asked me that question – it’s been a long two weeks.
“We have kept losing games of cricket and I haven’t been able to turn it around.”
Cook is due to meet team director Andy Flower and new managing director Paul Downton when he returns home to conduct a review of the Australia tour. Flower spoke of the need to begin a “new era” in English cricket after the Ashes sweep, with the future of under-performing stars such as Kevin Pietersen’s most hotly debated.
Cook’s future as captain is now likely to take over top billing. While the left-hander would appear to have the backing of the ECB to remain as Test captain, his comments after the seven-wicket defeat at the SCG suggest he could at least relinquish the 50-over reins.
For now, Cook is determined to remain for the final two games of the ODI series, which finishes in Adelaide on January 26, and try to end England’s losing streak.
“I’ve got a job to do,” he said. “I’ve got a job to try and turn this around, try and win one of these games. That’s the task at hand. I’m competitive. I want to leave everything out on the pitch.”
Cook does not fear any backlash back in England should his side suffer a second series whitewash this winter, adding: “We’ll deserve the stick we get because we haven’t won games of cricket. Simple deal.”
Australia were able to inflict the latest defeat by strolling past England’s 243 for nine with ten overs in hand.
Eoin Morgan passed 50 for the third time in as many games, but while the top six all managed to reach double figures they were unable to push on for more to continue a worrying trend.
“There has been a bit of a theme with our batting in terms of those partnerships – getting 30s and 40s,” Cook said. “You know you can’t do that.”
By contrast Australia attacked with the bat, opener David Warner smashed a quickfire 71 before Shaun Marsh completed the chase with an unbeaten 71 of his own.
England’s hopes of finally beating Australia will, however, be boosted in the next game in Perth, on Friday, with the hosts set to rest a host of key players including captain Michael Clarke. Warner will also sit out alongside Ashes winners Shane Watson and Brad Haddin.
Clarke, who will return for the final game, warned that does not mean his team plan on easing off as they maintain their stated desire to again win 5-0.
“Definitely. Our attitude hasn’t changed,” he said.
“We have a goal to be number one in the world and we are not there.”
Clarke was asked if he felt any sympathy for Cook after his own travails in charge of Australia. It was only six months ago that he oversaw a seven-game winless run in Test cricket, and he admitted the pressure of poor results weigh heavily on a captain’s reputation.
“Defeat takes a toll. It doesn’t matter what form of the game you captain any time you lose,” he said. “The way I see captaincy a lot of the time when you are not performing as a team the captain is in the spotlight. That’s a big part of captaincy. You are accountable.”
The 32-year-old is not about to start feeling for Cook as he prepares for a couple of days away from the game.
“I don’t thing feeling sorry for an opposition captain is the right thing to feel,” he said. “I know, to a certain extent, what Alastair is going through because we’ve experienced some tough times as a team. It is tough as a captain. There’s no doubt about it.
“At the end of the day I’m here to help Australia have success.”