Cook may quit one-day captaincy
Alastair Cook has hinted that he will consider his future as England's one-day captain after the series in Australia and, for the first time, appeared to be wavering over his role in the Test side as well.
Cook was powerless to stop Australia cantering to a 3-0 series lead in Sydney - their eighth consecutive loss of the tour - less than 48 hours after watching them snatch an incredible last-over finish in Brisbane, when England appeared to have finally secured an international win since leaving home.
"I'm going to have a decision on that stuff after the next two games. We will sit down and talk about a lot of things. I think there will be some changes, English cricket needs a little bit of a change," he said. "The last two months we haven't played the cricket we are capable of and we have to look at the reasons why."
On the eve of the one-day series, in Melbourne, Cook had struck a more upbeat note, having been given reassurances about his captaincy from Paul Downton, the new managing director of England, but when asked again about his leadership of both formats he seemed less sure.
"I don't really want to get dragged into my position," he said. "I don't know what I'll feel like when I get home. It's been two weeks since someone has asked me that question and a lot has happened. We have kept losing and I haven't been able to turn it around."
Although this tour has been hugely difficult for Cook, both from a captaincy and batting point of view, this was the first one-day series he had led in since England reached the final of the Champions Trophy, where they lost to India, in June.
Cook has been one-day captain since 2011, when he took over from Andrew Strauss a year before being elevated to the Test job. In that time has secured home series wins against Sri Lanka, India, West Indies and Australia and away successes in Pakistan and New Zealand.
The prospect of a 10-0 sweep on this tour remains across the formats that Cook captains, which are then followed by three Twenty20 matches where Stuart Broad will lead. Cook said he still had the drive to see out the last two matches in Perth and Adelaide, however.
"I've got a job to do, to try and turn it around and win one of these games. That's the task in hand. I'm competitive, I want to leave everything out on the pitch."
If Cook was to stand down from the one-day role the captaincy choice would appear to come down to Broad or Eoin Morgan. It would be a natural elevation for either with Broad already having the T20 role and Morgan having stood in for the matches against Ireland and Australia last year when Cook and Broad were both rested. An advantage for Morgan is that, as a batsman, and one currently not in the Test line-up, there would be less need for him to be rested at any stage.
Michael Clarke, who will miss the next ODI along with David Warner, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson, can draw on first-hand experience over the last 12 months of being in charge of a team in a similar state to England, but did not want to get drawn into Cook's situation.
"I don't think feeling sorry for an opposition captain is the right thing to feel," he said. "I know to a certain extent what Alastair's going through because we've experienced some tough times as a team, and it is a tough as a captain, but at the end of the day I'm here to help Australia have success and we've experienced a lot of defeats in the past couple of years. I think it would be very silly for me to put myself in Alastair's shoes because I'm not there."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo