Alastair Cook is “very close” to quitting as England captain, believes former skipper Michael Vaughan.
Cook, 31, said he will “go home and do some thinking” over his future after the 4-0 Test series defeat by India.
“His body language over the last three matches was one where he looks like he might be thinking of calling it a day,” Vaughan told BBC Sport.
However, Vaughan believes Cook is not certain to resign and said taking time to decide was the correct move.
- Listen: England not mentally tough enough – Vaughan
“He’s earned that right to have a period of time at home. We’ll wait and see,” the 42-year-old added.
“He’s stubborn and mentally very tough. He’s been through this sort of spell two or three times in his captaincy and carried on.
“But he has to be very honest with himself. Does he have the passion and energy to take the team forward through the seven Tests next summer? And then through the Ashes next winter?
“If the answer is just 1% no, then he has to stand aside.
“Towards the end of my captaincy, I just was not enjoying the game. I could see from his face he just is not enjoying cricket.
“I would think it’s very close to being the time to call it quits from his perspective.”
Backing for Cook from England camp
England assistant head coach Paul Farbrace said Cook had the support of players and management.
“If he chooses to step down, that would be a shame because we want him to carry on,” said Farbrace.
“When you lose a series 4-0, of course people will talk about the leadership. We all know that.
“But there’s nobody looking around the dressing room thinking ‘ooh, I wonder who’s in charge?’ It’s very clear who’s in charge, and that hasn’t changed.”
Is Root ready?
Before the series in India, Cook hinted that he could step down as skipper after the tour.
Last week – with the series already lost – the Essex left-hander said vice-captain Joe Root was “ready” to succeed him.
Vaughan described 25-year-old Root as “a world class player, the best batsman in the team, thoughtful and tactically very astute”.
“I do think he’ll make a very, very good captain for England and if it’s next year I think he’ll do a very very good job,” he added.
Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott feels Cook should step down as Test captain soon, to give Root time to settle in to the role.
“Cook is a top professional and a top batsman,” said Boycott. “But I don’t think it’s helpful to him, the team or English cricket if he’s in two minds what to do.
“This hasn’t just happened. It’s obvious that this has been on his mind for some time,” he added.
“Whoever captains in England this summer has seven Tests [against South Africa and West Indies] before the biggest series of all in the Ashes.
“If it is going to be Root – which it will be – he needs seven Test matches to put his stamp on it. Players need to get with his style.”