Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd heavily criticised England's top-order after Joe Root and Co. lost the second Test against India at Lord's. The likes of Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley and Haseeb Hameed only managed 69 runs between them in two innings as England skipper Root was once again forced to do the majority of the scoring.
"Look at India's opening pair. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul stand correctly and even though they are facing England's greatest ever bowler in Anderson they find ways to defend and score. Our top three seem to have no intention of scoring — they are just on a massive blockathon! It's a broken record with Root always trying to get them out of an almighty scrape," Lloyd told the Daily Mail.
"In 57 years I have never seen an opening pair stand like Rory Burns and Dom Sibley do. Ever! It's comedy cricket and that is the biggest issue."
Meanwhile, Hussain added: "England are being carried with the bat by Root and the discrepancy with the rest is as big as ever. As I said last week, I would have kept the same top three for Lord's because you have to make sure you're leaving the right batter out. They can't go back to Zak Crawley now and he has no red-ball cricket to work on his game because the schedule is a joke.
"But I can't see the upside in Sibley. I'd push Haseeb Hameed up to open and consider Dawid Malan at three but he hasn't had any first-class cricket either. Why has Ollie Pope never batted above four for Surrey?"
England, at the end of day four’s play were in a position of ascendancy, restricting India to six down. On top of that, they even started the fifth day’s play on a high, sending back Rishabh Pant, restricting India to 194/7. However, the decision-making post the dismissal was appalling, with the hosts insisting on bouncing out the Indian tail.
While the Indian tail were on the receiving end of some barrage, they took the attack the bowlers from thereon, putting on a show for the fans. Mohammed Shami, in particular, was scintillating in his 70-ball 56* with help from Jasprit Bumrah (34*), allowing India to set a target of 271 for the hosts.
"England lost the plot for an hour and emotion took over but you can understand why. They were looking after their senior bowler in Jimmy Anderson who had been peppered by Jasprit Bumrah. That's where captaincy and management come into it. You have to stay calm and calculated," said former England captain Hussain.
"Joe has taken responsibility which is what you do as captain but someone needed to say, 'Hold on, it's Bumrah. He averages three. Line and length'. You can have passion, but you have to stay cool and deliver. England didn't."
Hussain and Lloyd said the other batters will have to support Root and also make sure they don't let Indian captain Virat Kohli dictate terms.
"England did play a lot of good cricket at Lord's, let's not forget that. India do have frailties in their batting. But England can't win Tests with just one player in Root getting runs. Robinson has been an incredible find when there have been so many injuries to bowlers. So let's not write them off just yet, but they desperately need others to score runs."
Lloyd added: "England have definitely got it in them to hit back. They have to! But first they have to pick the right team. They were spooked by India in this Test and Virat Kohli was all over them like a cheap suit. They couldn't cope. So now they have to roll their sleeves up and get stuck in.
"Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri knew they could get under England's skin. England were too meek and mild. They didn't have enough leaders to say: 'Right, we'll go right back at them.'"
Kohli's men were all over England in the final two sessions and Hussain has no issues with his approach. "No. I love the way Kohli plays his cricket and this India side will not be bullied. The theatre and drama was exceptional. You don't want people to get physical but we didn't see that at Lord's. It's a heated game and there is a lot on the line. I loved what was going on out there over the five days. It was box office — Test cricket at its absolute best."