ALASTAIR Cook passed Geoffrey Boycott on England's all-time leading run-scorers list on Monday but the former Test opener believes the current captain is presiding over a "recipe for resignation".

England's fresh start after their Ashes misery looks set to be dramatically doused by Sri Lanka who on Tuesday will likely seal a first-ever series win in the country.

Angelo Mathews' 160 helped Sri Lanka set England a winning target of 350 at Headingley and their response was an awful one, closing the fourth day on 57 for five.

Essex star Cook chopped on to his own stumps for 17 as part of that collapse and little continues to go right for the captain, whose wet winter has turned into a shocking spring.

Questions had already been raised about his ability to captain the side - chiefly from Shane Warne - and Boycott can see why.

"Cook is in that sort of form where he'll get out in ways he couldn't dream up. That was a short long hop which he pulls well, it's one of his favourite shots, and he got an under-side edge onto the stumps," he told the Test Match Special podcast.

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Geoffrey Boycott

"It's like when you're playing well and you can plunder runs from anywhere. He cannot get a run, he'll get tenser, it'll get harder for him and I don't know how he's going to get out of it.

"We've had a very, very bad day. We thought the nightmare of Australia was over, but it's still here. This is a side... I don't know where we go. From a winning position we will lose, the captain is in terrible form and it's a recipe for resignation. I don't know if he will but it is."

Boycott was keen to add he has no problem with Cook as an individual or even as a player, but raised issues relating to how Sri Lanka were able to get into a winning position as Mathews manipulated the field at will.

He added: "I want to be fair to him because I love him, he's a lovely boy. My daughter has a boyfriend but if she didn't and went out with him, I mean when he was single, he's a lovely lad, one of the nicest people you could wish (to meet).

"He's a top batsman just in bad form, but he's a smashing lad. I have no problem with him setting that field, none at all. When it doesn't work, that's when I have a problem with it. Where's the innovation, the invention, the try-something-different?"