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 has played 427 Test matches, winning 137, losing 130 and drawing 160. Pakistan was given Test status on 28 July 1952, following a recommendation by India, and made its Test debut against India at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Delhi, in October 1952, with India winning by an innings and 70 runs. In the 1930s and 40s, several Pakistani Test players had played Test cricket for the Indian cricket team before the creation of Pakistan in 1947.
On 20 April 2007, a PCB official announced that former Test cricketer Talat Ali would act as interim coach, in addition to his rôle as team manager, until a new coach had been appointed. On 16 July 2007, Geoff Lawson, previously head coach of New South Wales, was appointed coach of Pakistan for two years, becoming the third foreigner to take on the rôle. In the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, Pakistan exceeded expectations to reach the final but ended as runners-up, after losing the final to India in a nail-biting finish. On 25 October 2008, Intikhab Alam was named as a national coach of the team by the PCB.
Pakistan started poorly in the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Their first match was against cricket rivals — India. India batted first and scored 300/7 with Virat Kohli scoring a century. After a poor start to the run chase, Pakistan's skipper Misbah-ul-Haq made a useful contribution of 76 runs but Pakistan lost the match by 76 runs. The second match against West Indies was a disaster. West Indies posted 310/6 on the board. In response, Pakistan lost 4 wickets for 1 run on the board, a first in an ODI match. The team was bowled out for 160 and lost the match by 150 runs.
If the 1980s were a low point for English Test cricket, then the 1990s were only a slight improvement. The arrival of Gooch as captain in 1990 forced a move toward more professionalism and especially fitness though it took some time for old habits to die. Even in 2011, one or two successful county players have been shown up as physically unfit for international cricket. Creditable performances against India and New Zealand in 1990 were followed by a hard-fought draw against the 1991 West Indies and a strong performance in the 1992 Cricket World Cup in which the England team finished as runners-up for the second consecutive World Cup, but landmark losses against Australia in 1990–91 and especially Pakistan in 1992 showed England up badly in terms of bowling. So bad was England's bowling in 1993 that Rod Marsh described England's pace attack at one point as "pie throwers". Having lost three of the first four Tests played in England in 1993, Gooch resigned to be replaced by Michael Atherton.
The tournament did not start well for Pakistan, losing to their arch-rivals India by 124 runs. But as the group stages progressed the bowling attack improved significantly for Pakistan, winning games against South Africa by 19 runs, and a crucial game against Sri Lanka by 3 wickets. This set up a semi-final against hosts and favourites England, where Hasan Ali took 3 wickets to take Pakistan to their first ICC Champions Trophy Final, a highly anticipated re-match with India.