England are World Cup favourites because they are not afraid to fail – Kevin Pietersen

Australia v England - First Test: Day 1

Kevin Pietersen believes England’s acceptance of failure makes them the team to beat at the Cricket World Cup.

Eoin Morgan’s side are favourites to win the tournament which begins on home soil on Thursday when they take on South Africa at the Oval.

They are the number one ranked side in the world and are unbeaten in their last 12 series, playing a thrilling brand of cricket.

Pietersen believes they have been able to play with freedom, which has led to some scintillating performances.

“The way that they play, they are definitely ranked number one in the world because of the way that they play,” he told Press Association Sport at the tournament’s opening party.

“The point of difference between the England of old and the England of now is that they are backed to fail, knowing their captain and coach will back them if they fail.

“And if when you fail you still get backed, then you are going to play some unbelievable cricket because you are going to go out there as a free spirit.

“The team culture and the way that Eoin Morgan is leading the team is nothing short of unbelievable.”

The last time England hosted a World Cup 20 years ago, it ended in disaster as they went out at the group stage and ended the summer as the lowest ranked Test team, missing a real opportunity to promote the game.

Australia v England - First Test: Day 1

Pietersen, who played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups for England, was part of the side that won the 2005 Ashes so knows what impact a successful team can have on the country.

He added: “It is going to bring a lot of pressure, I could chuck that stupid cliché that pressure is a privilege, but you have got to take it on and understand that the time is now for an English team to step up because we haven’t won a World Cup, and it will just be amazing for the game of cricket.

“That is going to bring a load more pressure, the game of cricket is going to be at a key point.

“If England get knocked out of the World Cup and lose the Ashes that is going to be such a dent in our great team.”

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England have only ever won one ICC tournament, the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup, in which Pietersen came to the fore for his country with a string of match-winning displays.

He has backed Jason Roy and Jos Buttler to do the same this time around for the hosts.

“Roy and Buttler are on a different planet for the way they play,” he said. “It has changed completely now the way they play the game.

“They try and hit sixes off every ball and it is now so good to watch, there is no fear factor, it is ‘How far can I hit this, how often can I do it’.

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