Alastair Cook is determined to take all the time available to him so he makes the right decision about whether to continue as England captain.
Cook admitted he was in no state, after his team had descended to a second successive innings defeat to finish as 4-0 losers against their world No 1 hosts India, to make the call on whether he extends his already record run in charge.
It would have been “foolish”, he believes, to make a snap judgment in the wrong circumstances – when there is no rush, with England dormant in Test cricket for more than six months up to next July.
The conjecture about his future has refused to abate ever since Cook himself raised the issue on the eve of this series by projecting, in a magazine interview, a future in which he can simply bat for his country again without the extra responsibility of leading the team.
After England had lost their last six wickets for just 15 runs to be bowled out for 207 and lose by an innings and 75 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, with Ravindra Jadeja rampant on the way to a career-best seven for 48, the same questions inevitably came back to haunt Cook.
He stuck, however, largely to the responses he has uttered all tour – that he will make no knee-jerk call on such an important issue, at least until he has spent Christmas at home with his young family and then discussed the matter in his long-scheduled new year de-brief with England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss.
“I’ve got to go away and do some thinking,” he said. “This is not the right time to make decisions as big as that.”
Cook, who will be 32 on Christmas Day, must factor in not only whether it is the right time for him to step down after 57 Tests in charge since he became permanent captain four years ago but whether England will be best served by someone else as they begin preparations for next winter’s Ashes.
“I need to go home first, enjoy Christmas as much as I can, and then come back in January and look to plan with Straussy and see what’s the right decision for English cricket,” he added. “I’ve got to go away and decide whether I am the right man to take England forward. It’s the wrong time to make those decisions because energy is low, and you can make foolish decisions at those times.
“When there’s not a Test match for seven months it’d seem very foolish to stand here now and make a decision which either you regret or don’t. If there was a Test match in three weeks’ time you’d have to think. But while there is a bit of space, why not use it?”
Cook had just watched his team falter from his and Keaton Jennings’ opening stand of 103, losing all ten wickets in under two sessions after India had piled up a record-breaking 759 for seven declared before stumps the previous day.
“It’s tough – it’s been a tough tour,” he said. “When you lose games of cricket it becomes very hard, and it can be quite a lonely place.
“We knew it would be a pressurised day today, and at some stage we’d lose a couple of wickets in clusters.
“We weren’t good enough or skilful enough as players to stop that momentum.”
Cook’s opposite number Virat Kohli finished the series with 655 runs at an average of almost 110.
After his team had consolidated their world-beating status and England had fallen from second to fifth in a congested International Cricket Council table, Kohli was not about to offer Cook advice.
He said: “I am in no position to comment on what he should do with his captaincy – he has played enough Test matches and [been] captain for long enough to understand his mindset.”