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Brearley's side showed again the hyperbole that is often spoken when one side dominates in cricket. While his side of 1977–80 contained some young players who went on to become England greats, most notably future captains Ian Botham, David Gower and Graham Gooch, their opponents were often very much weakened by the absence of their World Series players, especially in 1978, when England beat New Zealand 3–0 and Pakistan 2–0 before thrashing what was effectively Australia's 2nd XI 5–1 in 1978–79.
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:
At the 1992 World Cup Semi-final, having won the toss, New Zealand chose to bat first and ended with a total of 262 runs. Pakistan batted conservatively yet lost wickets at regular intervals. With the departure of Imran Khan and Saleem Malik shortly thereafter, Pakistan still required 115 runs at a rate of 7.67 runs per over with veteran Javed Miandad being the only known batsman remaining at the crease. A young Inzamam-ul-Haq, who had just turned 22 and was not a well-known player at the time, burst onto the international stage with a match-winning 60 off 37 balls. Once Inzamam got out, Pakistan required 36 runs from 30 balls, which wicket-keeper Moin Khan ended with a towering six over long off, followed by the winning boundary to midwicket. The match is seen as the emergence of Inzamam onto the international stage.
England's first match after the war was in the 1920–21 season against Australia. Still feeling the effects of the war England went down to a series of crushing defeats and suffered their first whitewash losing the series 5–0. Six Australians scored hundreds while Mailey spun out 36 English batsmen. Things were no better in the next few Ashes series losing the 1921 Ashes series 3–0 and the 1924–25 Ashes 4–1. England's fortunes were to change in 1926 as they regained the Ashes and were a formidable team during this period dispatching Australia 4–1 in the 1928–29 Ashes tour.