Sir Alastair Cook has backed England to end their long wait for a World Cup success and believes they are favourites to triumph on home soil.
England, captained by Eoin Morgan, top the One Day International world rankings with 100 days to go until the start of the 50-over tournament.
Ex-captain Cook ended his record-breaking international career last year as the country’s highest Test run-scorer and most-capped player.
Asked if he felt England were favourites to lift the trophy at Lord’s on July 14, the 34-year-old told Press Association Sport: “Absolutely.
“Everyone’s very settled and they’ve got matchwinners pretty much from one to 15.
“It’s such an exciting time for English one-day cricket, brilliantly led by Eoin Morgan and they’ve got a hell of a chance to win this World Cup.
“They’ve got the ability to get massive scores, they bat all the way down with people who can whack it out of the park, and then they’ve got some very skilful bowlers – the spin twins of Moeen (Ali) and (Adil) Rashid.”
Essex opener Cook never played at a World Cup after being dropped as national team captain and then left out of the 2015 squad.
Three-time finalists England produced a dismal performance in Australia and New Zealand four years ago, failing to beat a fellow Test-playing nation and exiting at the group stage.
Cook attributes previous struggles to too many last-minute changes, but feels that will not be an issue this time.
“Probably over the years we’ve really concentrated on Test cricket as a nation. Over the last three or four years we’ve really given the one-day cricket its due,” he said.
“We’ve made massive mistakes leading up to series, like changing England’s formula just before the World Cup, over the last four World Cups we’ve had major changes in key positions.
“And this is not going to happen this time. Everyone is very clear on their roles, so that is exciting.”
Cook also dismissed suggestions of England being under extra pressure to deliver by hosting the tournament.
“I don’t see football teams moaning about having to play at home very often, it’s a massive advantage to play at home in every other sport,” he added.
“With everyone saying: ‘The pressure of a home World Cup’, I think the players will love it and embrace the support.”
Former spin bowler Graeme Swann, part of the World T20-winning side in 2010, also tipped England for glory.
The 39-year-old feels the team is feared by other nations and believes lessons learned at the previous World Cup have helped transform their fortunes.
“They are picking a team of one-day specialists, they’ve got an exceptional leader in Eoin Morgan and, personally, 100 days out I think they are favourites to win this World Cup,” he said.
“I think they are a feared team throughout the world, especially the batting line-up. They might not be the brightest bunch sitting down doing an exam but they know their one-day cricket."
“I think since the disastrous World Cup in Australia, that sheet kind of got ripped up and they started picking proper one-day specialists and that’s why they are in the position they are in now. It’s the absolute difference.”News Now - Sport News