More selectorial problems abounded during Atherton's reign as new chairman of selectors and coach Ray Illingworth (then into his 60s) assumed almost sole responsibility for the team off the field. The youth policy which had seen England emerge from the West Indies tour of 1993–94 with some credit (though losing to a seasoned Windies team) was abandoned and players such as Gatting and Gooch were persisted with when well into their 30s and 40s. England continued to do well at home against weaker opponents such as India, New Zealand and a West Indies side beginning to fade but struggled badly against improving sides like Pakistan and South Africa. Atherton had offered his resignation after losing the 1997 Ashes series 3–2 having been 1–0 up after two matches – eventually to resign one series later in early 1998. England, looking for talent, went through a whole raft of new players during this period, such as Ronnie Irani, Adam Hollioake, Craig White, Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash. At this time, there were two main problems:
The England cricket team represents England and Wales in international cricket. Since 1997, it has been governed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), having been previously governed by Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC) since 1903. England, as a founding nation, is a Full Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) with Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) status. Until the 1990s, Scottish and Irish players also played for England as those countries were not yet ICC members in their own right.
Pakistan's first Test match was played in Delhi in October 1952 as part of a five Test series. They lost the first test by an innings and 70 runs. India scored 372 runs in their first innings and Pakistan managed 302 runs in combined both innings. However, it just took seven days to turn things around for the Pakistani's. In second Test match, Pakistan blew India away for 106 before Pakistan, with the help of Hanif Mohammad's 124, scored 331 in their first innings, taking a lead of 225. India were bowled out for 182, giving Pakistan a win by an innings and 43 runs. It was Fazal Mahmood's game as he took 12/94. India won the next match by 10 wickets before the final two test went draw, which resulted India winning series 2–1.
Queensland did decide to formally join the association with one delegate member the following year, and the constitution was amended in 1906, so that New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria would each have three permanent representatives, and Queensland one representative. In 1907 Tasmania was also permitted to send a single representative, and Western Australia did likewise in 1913. Changes to this structure were made in 1914 and 1974 respectively when Queensland and Western Australia formally increased their representation to two each.
The Pakistan semi-final was with the host-Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka scored 139/ with Mahela Jayawardena took the gear. Pakistan nearly chased the target, but wickets in crucial interval gave them backward. Skipper Mohammad Hafeez scored 42 runs and all the other batsmen not going well. The match was turned towards Sri Lanka with magical spell by Rangana Herath, who took wickets of Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik. Pakistan lost the match by 16 runs.
However, from 1968 to 1971 they played 27 consecutive Test matches without defeat, winning 9 and drawing 18 (including the abandoned Test at Melbourne in 1970–71). The sequence began when they drew with Australia at Lord's in the Second Test of the 1968 Ashes series and ended in 1971 when India won the Third Test at The Oval by four wickets. They played 13 Tests with only one defeat immediately beforehand and so played a total of 40 consecutive Tests with only one defeat, dating from their innings victory over the West Indies at The Oval in 1966. During this period they beat New Zealand, India, the West Indies, and Pakistan, and under Ray Illingworth's leadership, regained The Ashes from Australia in 1970–71.
In 2002, Pakistan participated in their second Asian Test Championship. It was originally planned to include all four Asian ICC full-members (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). However, before the tournament started, India's participation was put in doubt. After defeating Bangladesh in the 1st Test to meet Sri Lanka in the final, they were defeated by them by 8 wickets.