The end for Alastair Cook as England collapse against India
Captain expected to stand down after humiliating defeat in Chennai leaves team broken and exhausted
England cricket captain Alastair Cook is under pressure to step down after his side's capitulation in the final Test against India in Chennai, where they were beaten by an innings and 75 runs.
Despite scoring 477 in their first innings, England were humiliated as India racked up a mammoth 759-7 in their reply, with Karun Nair scoring 303 not out.
England were out for just 207 on the final day, with several batsmen dismissed in kamikaze fashion.
Even before the last rites were administered by the Indian bowlers, there were doubts about Cook's future. India's record-breaking innings - the highest ever scored against England in a Test - could prove to be the "last straw" for the captain in "a year where England have regressed in Test cricket", says Chris Stocks of The Times.
Defeat only adds to the gloom. "No Test team have ever lost by an innings having scored as many as 477 in their first knock but England managed that with room to spare," reports Vic Marks of The Guardian.
"Ravindra Jadeja, the more straightforward of India's spinners, finished with career-best figures of seven for 48, a reward for skilful persistence and a consequence of some wanton, brain-dead batting."
However, England's "spineless capitulation" was triggered by mental exhaustion, adds Marks. Accomplished batsmen were "drained by the demands of an exhausting tour" and were reduced to performing like "callow novices".
Geoffrey Boycott of the BBC was typically forthright in the aftermath. He was particularly unimpressed by Moeen Ali, a centurion in the first innings who was out trying to hit Jadeja for six.
"We gave it away with awful cricket. The worst thing is, we've seen this before - like dominoes going down, you push one and they all go down," he says.
But Derek Pringle in The Independent does not place the blame at the door of the batsmen, who "cannot be faulted all that much".
He argues: "Competitive first innings totals were posted in four of the five Tests. Instead it was the bowling that misfired, culminating with a horror show in Chennai."
But a lack of leadership undermined England. "While individuals must take responsibility for their own performances, Cook has not helped matters with his captaincy," says Pringle. "Whether the nature of modern cricket, with its analysts, lends itself to linear thinking, but Cook appears to have very fixed ideas on how to win cricket matches. As such he appears unable to riff or improvise... you need to react quickly or even predict things in India, where the moment to strike can pass quickly."
While Cook is unlikely to be sacked, many expect him to stand down after the 4-0 defeat, with Joe Root the obvious choice to replace him.
And at least one former England captain believes Cook will pass on the captaincy.
"He looked absolutely shell-shocked. He had that haunted look that I've seen in many England captains' eyes," said Michael Atherton on Sky Sports.
"If I was a betting man, I reckon he'll step down in time. I don't think he'll be sacked but I think he'll probably feel like he's done enough."