ICC regulations also allow cricketers who represent associate (i.e. non-Test-playing) nations to switch to a Test-playing nation, provided nationality requirements are fulfilled. In recent years, this has seen Irish internationals Ed Joyce, Boyd Rankin and Eoin Morgan switch to represent England, whilst Gavin Hamilton previously played for Scotland – though Joyce, Rankin and Hamilton were later able to re-qualify for and represent the countries of their birth. 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:
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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.