Crawley was dropped for the second Test against India at Lord’s, having managed scores of 27 and 6 at Nottingham. Earlier, he had scored only 21 runs in the two-match series against New Zealand.
Reacting to England’s batting woes at the top of the order, Akmal stated that Crawley could be a better opening option than Rory Burns and Dom Sibley. The wicketkeeper-batter said on his YouTube channel:
“Sorry to say, I don’t want to disrespect anyone, but I haven’t seen such a weak opening pair (Rory Burns and Dom Sibley) in England’s history. I think it is better for England to play Zak Crawley in 5-6 Test matches as an opener. He is a much better cricketer. The more he plays, he will improve that much. He can be as good as Joe Root in the times to come. He played at No. 3 and unfortunately got dropped. But I think England need to think in that direction now.”
Akmal also felt that England’s rotation policy, despite all its merits, did more harm than good to the team. He explained:
“As per my analysis, their rotation policy, though meant for good, perhaps damaged their Test cricket a bit. They have experimented a lot, as a result players are not being able to settle in. Apart from Joe Root, no one is scoring runs. Earlier, England had a middle-order comprising the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell. They could build partnerships. So even if England lost wickets at the top, these batters could steady the innings.”
England must find a solution to woes of top 3: Andrew Strauss
Former England captain Andrew Strauss also stated that England cannot keep playing with the same top order, which has failed to deliver game after game. In his column for Sky Sports, Strauss commented:
"At some stage, if you keep being two or three down for nothing, it's going to come back to haunt you. Yes, they were two good balls to get rid of Burns and Sibley but, of course, then Joe Root is under pressure, (Haseeb) Hameed is under pressure and then Jonny Bairstow and the middle order as well. You just can't keep doing that time after time.”
The former England captain suggested:
"I think it might be time to bring Sibley out of the firing line. He has looked out of touch. I think Ollie Pope is probably going to come back in, who has been in and around the squad, but is it right for him to be batting in the top three? It is not an easy solution. There are a lot of problems for England, no doubt about that. If they had got away with it again, we might have been able to paper over the cracks but not anymore."
India trounced England by 151 runs at Lord’s despite the hosts being the dominant side for the majority of the Test. The sides now head to Leeds for the third Test of the five-match series.