Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
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It has been a "hell of a year", in the words of Alastair Cook but he will have to wait a few more days to see if it has been worth it - at least from a personal perspective. After England slipped to another heavy defeat to cap off a 5-2 beating by Sri Lanka, Cook admitted that his performances in one-day cricket had not been good enough and that he "could have no complaints" if the selectors decided to relieve him of the captaincy for the World Cup.
In 2014, England have lost four out of five ODI series, with their sole victory coming in the Caribbean when Cook was rested as part of preparations for the World T20. The last time he oversaw victory in a bilateral series was against New Zealand in February 2013.
England's head coach, Peter Moores, and the ECB managing director, Paul Downton, have already given Cook their public backing but the final decision will be taken this week when the World Cup selection is finalised. By the time he turns 30 on Christmas Day, Cook will have been able to digest whether or not he is the man to lead England in Australia and New Zealand.
"No one has got any divine right to play for England, that's the way it should be and my performances this year in the one-day game haven't been good enough," he said. "I can't have any complaints if the decision went against me. It's not been for lack of effort or wanting to try and improve my game I just haven't been good enough this year.
"I haven't given it too much thought because if the decision went that way I can't do much about it. I haven't scored the runs I would like to have scored and we haven't won the number of games I would like to have won. So if it happens I could have no complaints but as a leader you take tough days on the chin and hope people are learning from it."
As the team's fortunes have plummeted, so have Cook's returns with the bat. A scratchy 32 in the final Colombo ODI meant he has now scored one fifty in his last 22 innings and it is two-and-a-half years since his last hundred. Cook continues to believe he can turn around his form, suggesting that when the runs finally come it will be in a torrent, and said that he was "incredibly hungry" to lead England in a successful World Cup campaign.
"It's a frustration to us all because away from the middle I've hit the ball as well as I have done, especially on this trip," he said. "The longer that number goes up the more of a worry it is but you do what you always do, keeping trying, working hard as you can at your game and you back yourself to turn the corner. When the floodgates to open it should be good.
"I'm incredibly hungry to do well, I don't like not seeing a job through, and I see a lot of potential in this team. Jimmy and Broady will come back and add some real quality to our bowling attack and we'll go there hopefully in a good frame."
Without James Anderson and Stuart Broad, England's inexperienced attack struggled in Sri Lanka but it was arguably the indifferent form of the senior batsmen that contributed most to defeat. Cook's highest score was 34 from six innings, Eoin Morgan averaged 12.85 and Ian Bell was dropped after two games. England rarely managed to pull together a concerted display but there were impressive individual performances from Moeen Ali, Joe Root, James Taylor and Chris Woakes.
"It's been a hell of a year," Cook said. "We haven't won the games, there's been a big change in personnel within the team and it's been a year of transition, certainly from 15 months ago when we were winning the Ashes at home to what's happened. It's been a year you wouldn't expect but England have found some outstanding cricketers as well."
Providing he is appointed, Cook has not given up hope of England making a better fist of things at the World Cup. "I think we can surprise people," he said. "We're going to have to play better than we have done here. We've got a huge amount of talent in the squad and I think we've made some good strides in certain areas on this tour. We've worked incredibly hard, so yeah, there's no reason why we can't in better conditions for us."