England batsman Alex Hales has named the three teams that will rival Trevor Bayliss’ side for the World Cup this summer.
It’s a huge summer of cricket for England with the World Cup and the Ashes coming to home soil and the hosts will be wanting to put on a good showing.
England are currently the number one ranked ODI side in the world and haven’t lost any of their last 10 ODI series, making them the bookies’ favourites for the World Cup.
Hales agrees that they should be favourites “based on what we have achieved in the last four years” and has named three sides that are likely to push England all the way.
“We all know that India are always a seriously strong team when it comes to World Cup tournaments,” Hales told Sky Sports. “But with Pakistan you never quite know what Pakistan you are going to get.
“If they turn up, on their day they are an unbelievable team as we saw in the Champions Trophy, so nobody can rule them out.
“We also have Australia who by winning the recent series in India showed that they shouldn’t be written off, especially if they have all their pacemen available and with David Warner and Steve Smith back in their ranks.
“So, I would say that England, India, Pakistan and Australia are the four main teams in the running to lift the World Cup.”
On the new-look format at this year’s tournament, Hales added: “It’s quite a long tournament but I quite like the idea of everyone playing each other once.
“I think the previous one was two groups and then quarter-finals, but I support the idea of everyone playing each other once.
“It’s a slightly longer tournament this time around but it’s a World Cup at the end of the day and it’s a tournament that players dream of playing in when growing up.
“So, I won’t criticise the format for the sake of an extra week or two as I do think it’s a good one for the World Cup.”
Players expected to have “a bridge to the outside” if international action is given the go-ahead.
England hope to squeeze in a near full international campaign despite the lengthy setbacks faced by the sport.
England have named 14 uncapped players in a 55-man training group.
A total of 55 players have been invited to work under ECB guidance in the coming weeks.
The swing bowler completed the landmark at Headingley.
But the ICC has rejected claims the tournament will be postponed, insisting a number of contingency plans are being considered.
He will not return from his family home in Tasmania even if the delayed season gets under way later this summer.
No domestic cricket can take place until at least August.
An expanded training group of up to 45 is due to be named on Friday.