There's a bit in The Thick of It, the expletive-laden BBC political comedy, where spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker - Dr Who to younger readers - tries to convince minister Hugh Abbott that there is such a thing as "a good resignation". Abbott responds incredulously, astounded at the idea any falling on his sword could have a positive, but Tucker reassures him thus:
"Look, people really like it when you go just a bit early! You know; steely jawed, faraway look in your eyes! Before you get to the point when they're sitting round in the pub saying "Oh, that fucker's got to go!", you surprise them! "Blimey, he's gone! I didn't expect that! Resigned? You don't see that much anymore! Old school! Respect! I rather liked the guy! He was hounded out by the fucking press!" How about that, eh? What a way to go!" Abbott instead chooses to cling on, later in the episode expressing regret that he's missed his "ideal resigning point."
Quitting the captaincy of your country because you no longer think you're up to it - ask Michael Vaughan - must be one of the most distressing things a sportsman ever has to do. It's wholly understandable Cook should want to stay in position, but everybody in world cricket except the ECB can see he missed his ideal resigning point as ODI skipper a long, long time ago. You'd have to be pretty mean-spirited to ever describe someone as docile and inoffensive as Cook - however blindly stubborn he is - as "a fucker", but the anger towards him down the pub is real nonetheless, even if it's still substantially dwarfed by the, fully justified, anger on Twitter.
Slow-moving, doomed and a relic of the last century, the England ODI side have become cricket's Titanic, the only difference being the Titanic wasn't actually captained by the iceberg. The ECB won't change course and sack Cook because it would be an admission of their own longstanding ignorance and failures concerning the trends of global limited overs cricket. It's Cook alone who can save England from himself and no one would think any less of him for doing so. It will be far too late, but by sacrificing himself for the good of the team - the most selfless act any captain can undertake - Alastair Cook can still have a good resignation.