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:
Pakistan started well in the ICC Cricket World Cup, which was held in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, after beating Kenya, Sri Lanka (one of the tournament favourites) and bye a margin, beating Canada. Shahid Afridi clearly stated that his team is capable of qualifying for the Semifinals. After a huge loss against New Zealand, Pakistan defeated Zimbabwe by 7 wickets. After victory against Zimbabwe Pakistan cemented their shot at playing the ICC CWC 2011 Quarters. One of the highlights of the tournament for Pakistan was when they beat Australia, who were led by 3 brilliant pace bowlers, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson. However Pakistan defied the odds and defeated Australia, courtesy of a brilliant bowling display. This saw Australia's record win streak of 27 consecutive world cup games broken which saw them win every game between the 1999 world cup up until this game. In the quarter-finals they played West Indies. Pakistan were ruthless, as they emphatically won against the West Indies side by 10 wickets, due to another brilliant bowling display. In the semi-finals on 30 March, Pakistan had a match with its fiercest rival, India. India managed 260 after they batted first. Not having a good batting line-up along with a slow start to the chase, Pakistan were 29 runs short as India reached the final (India went on to win the final, by defeating Sri Lanka).
Pakistan then won their next four games against Zimbabwe, UAE, South Africa and Ireland. Sarfaraz Ahmed scored Pakistan's only century against Ireland and was awarded Man of the Match against both South Africa and Ireland. The victory was Pakistan's first against South Africa in a World Cup match. Pakistan finished third in group B and qualified for the quarterfinals.
84.1 FOUR! Mitchell Starc to Imran Khan. Length ball, outside off stump backing away driving, well timed in the air under control past long off for 4 runs. An incredible shot back over Starc's head. Imran gave himself so much room to allow him to free the arms and he nailed the stroke. Australia's openers will be getting twitchy as the runs keep counting down.
In the home Test series victory against Pakistan in July and August 2006, several promising new players emerged. Most notable were the left-arm orthodox spin bowler Monty Panesar, the first Sikh to play Test cricket for England, and left-handed opening batsman Alastair Cook. The 2006–07 Ashes series was keenly anticipated and was expected to provide a level of competition comparable to the 2005 series. In the event, England, captained by Flintoff who was deputising for the injured Vaughan, lost all five Tests to concede the first Ashes whitewash in 86 years.
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The England cricket team represents England and Wales. However, under ICC regulations, players can qualify to play for a country by nationality, place of birth or residence, so (as with any national sports team) some people are eligible to play for more than one team. ECB regulations state that to play for England, a player must be a British citizen, and have either been born in England or Wales, or have lived in England or Wales for three years. This has led to players who also held other nationalities becoming eligible to play for England. The qualification period for those born outside England and Wales has varied in the past, but in November 2018 the ECB announced that the period would be reduced to three years in all circumstances, in line with ICC regulations.