Most bowlers are considered specialists in that they are selected for the team because of their skill as a bowler, although some are all-rounders and even specialist batsmen bowl occasionally. The specialists bowl several times during an innings but may not bowl two overs consecutively. If the captain wants a bowler to "change ends", another bowler must temporarily fill in so that the change is not immediate.[82]
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:

Against the South Africa cricket team in 2013 tour, they were badly whitewashed by the Proteas by 3-0 (3). In first Test, they were bowled out for 49, the worst in their history. That was considered to be worst performance against top side. At the same year, they also got their second defeat to Zimbabwe when Pakistan toured for two match Test series. The series was drawn 1-1. In early 2014, against Sri Lanka who toured UAE for 3 match series, Pakistan were down 1-0 after two match. In the final match, the first four days went nowhere until the early fifth day when Pakistan managed to bowl out the Sri Lankan cricket team for 214 and were asked to chase 301 in last two and a half session. Pakistan chased it down in 57.3 overs, the fastest chase in Test cricket history. 

Botham took over the captaincy in 1980 and they put up a good fight against the West Indies, losing a five match Test series 1–0, although England were humbled in the return series. After scoring a pair in the first Test against Australia, Botham lost the captaincy due to his poor form, and was replaced by Brearley. Botham returned to form and played exceptionally in the remainder of the series, being named man of the match in the third, fourth and fifth Tests. The series became known as Botham's Ashes as England recorded a 3–1 victory.

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