Joe Root set off for India yesterday still awaiting a formal decision on whether he will be England’s new Test captain.
Alastair Cook, after four years and a record 59 matches, remains in post at present but has been pondering his future since a 4-0 series defeat in India before Christmas.
Should he decide that, at 32 and with an exacting Ashes tour less than a year away, the time is right to return to the ranks, Root will step up from vice-captain uncontested.
The 26-year-old Yorkshire batsman became a father for the first time on Saturday, delaying his departure for the limited-overs series which begins in Pune on Sunday, but any hopes of having the issue resolved before he set off have passed.
Root is due to land in Mumbai in the early hours of this morning (local time) and could conceivably take the field in a warm-up match against India A within a matter of hours.
Cook will meet his old opening partner and current ECB director of cricket Andrew Strauss soon to complete the usual post-series debrief, with his own leadership a pressing matter.
There is no appetite at the ECB to force Cook’s hand and support for his continued leadership, from both management and playing staff, appears genuine rather mere lip service to a man who still wields considerable authority at the organisation.
The repeated refrain is that the decision is Cook’s to make and, with no Test cricket until July when England take on South Africa, there is no hard deadline.
It is understood that Cook has not sought counsel from senior teammates, though it is hard to lean firmly in either direction on that information.
Yet a verdict must surely be forthcoming sooner rather than later. If Cook has had enough of the spotlight, something that seemed increasingly likely as he gave a weary assessment of his position at the end of the Test series, he and the side gain little by delaying the inevitable transition of power