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, with Ravindra Jadeja rampant on the way to a career-best 7-48, 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, nor any call 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.”
England’s Chennai humiliation, where they lost by an innings and 75 runs, means they have suffered a record-equalling eight Test defeats this year.
Asked whether the team had stagnated over the last 12 months, Cook replied: “It’s a fair shout. You can say whatever you want now, if I turn around and slag everyone off and use emotive language, you’re not doing your job. When you lose games of cricket, you get criticised and you have to take it on the chin. All the guys gave it their all, we just weren’t good enough.
“That’s the culmination of the pressure being built up on us over a long period of time and a bit of mental tiredness. People will look at that and say it’s an excuse, but we haven’t been good enough in these conditions.”
England have played seven Tests in the space of a gruelling two months on the subcontinent, where they will leave with just one victory – in their opener against Bangladesh in Chittagong.
The writing was on the wall for them after losing to the Tigers for the first time in a Test in Dhaka in October and they have been second best in almost every department to their Indian counterparts, who have now won 16 of their last 18 Tests on home soil.
Cook added: “I said at the beginning of the series it’s vitally important that we stayed in the contest for as long as we can, because we’ve seen in previous tours of India that once they get ahead of you it’s very hard to bounce back. It’s very hard to stop that momentum.
“We’ve been in games, we’ve had good fortune in winning four out of the five tosses and we haven’t been good enough to take those opportunities and stay with them.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you’re not good enough in these conditions and we have to try and improve when we come back here.”
England assistant coach Paul Farbrace, speaking in place of coach Trevor Bayliss who has flown to Australia for a pre-Christmas hernia operation, confirmed Cook will have time to decide on his future.
Farbrace said: “The respect that he has in the team and the fact that the team are very much behind him speaks volumes of him as a bloke and as a captain.
“His decision, and it will be his decision, with [ECB director] Andrew Strauss and Trevor Bayliss – they’ll sit down and they’ll have that conversation when that happens.
“Probably he’ll need a few days to clear his head when he gets home, but Cookie will do the right thing for the England cricket team.
“He always has done and he always will do.
“He’s been an excellent leader for this team. We hope he continues, but ultimately it’s his choice to make that decision.”
Farbrace said he thinks Cook is the right man to lead England next year, including in next winter’s Ashes series in Australia.
“We’re working towards the Ashes series and Cookie is in those plans to be the captain of that side,” he added.
“Nothing that has happened in this series will change our mind in terms of him being the right person to lead the England cricket team.”
Scoreboard: Page 22