London - Michael Vaughan has joined the list of former skippers questioning whether Alastair Cook should continue as England captain.
After nine Tests without a win and 26 innings since he made the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds, Cook's position has come under intense scrutiny, with the opener out for just 10 in his side's first innings during the ongoing second Test against India at Lord's.
The likes of Geoffrey Boycott, Alec Stewart and, most recently, Mike Brearley, have suggested the burden of leading England may now becoming too heavy for 29-year-old Essex left-hander Cook to carry.
Vaughan said England were in danger of doing permanent damage to Cook's ability as a batsman if he was allowed to remain as captain.
"We have reached the stage with Cook when he cannot be enjoying cricket. You don't when you are not playing well and the team is struggling," Vaughan, England's 2005 Ashes-winning captain, wrote in his Telegraph column.
"It is easy for the England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy to say it is going to stick by him but it has to ask what is best for the team and for Cook.
"The ECB has a responsibility to Cook the person to do the right thing and if that means taking the captaincy away then so be it."
For the 39-year-old Vaughan, Cook's plight was reminiscent of the situation he found himself in when struggling to combine the roles of England captain and opening batsman.
"I went through terrible moments opening the batting and captaining the side. I could not buy a run in my first series against South Africa and really struggled in Sri Lanka. It was killing me going to my room at night hating this job," he added.
Then-England coach Duncan Fletcher -- now in charge of India -- helped Vaughan regain his form by suggesting he move down the order
"He looked me in the eyes over coffee and said what about dropping down the order to give yourself space and time to gather your thoughts and make the transition from captaincy to batting," Vaughan recalled.
"That one chat with Duncan saved me as a captain. If I had been stubborn and carried on as before I would not have lasted in the job because my form would not have been good enough to stay in the side."
However, Vaughan said a similar move was not an option for Cook and added the best course of action might be simply to remove the captaincy in the hope it allows him to concentrate solely on his batting.
The new hierarchy at the ECB installed after England's 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia have staked plenty on Cook's leadership, even saying the need to support his captaincy was a reason for sending star batsman Kevin Pietersen into international exile.
But Vaughan insisted any concerns the management had about being seen to perform a U-turn or "give in" to Cook's critics missed the point.
"English cricket has to get him back to batting consistently at the top of the order," Vaughan said.
"He needs a bit of honest feedback. The ECB and Alastair cannot be stubborn and just carry on because they fear giving in to his critics.
"Plenty of great players have had to relinquish the captaincy to carry on being a player."