Top-order batsman Alex Hales believes England deserve to be considered the favourites to win the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019.
Hales, who hopes England will learn from the heartbreak suffered in previous campaigns, also concedes that how his country deal with those pressure moments – especially in the latter stages, if England progress past the group phase – will go a long way to determining their success.
“England are the favourites and that is based on what we have achieved in the last four years, which has been fantastic,” Hales told Sky Sports. “To not have lost a series in the last 10 ODI series shows that we are the in-form team.
“Hopefully if we play good cricket at the World Cup we will get through to the knockout stages and then it's all about how we perform under pressure in those games. Hopefully we've learnt from our past experiences and can go all the way."
Despite earning the ‘favourites’ tag with some stellar performances in recent years, a tournament of this magnitude is never a one-horse race, and Hales has identified England, Australia, India and Pakistan as “the four main teams in the running to lift the World Cup”.
First up in today's @bira91 @cricketworldcup Greatest Moments match-up is Kapil Dev's astonishing 175* against Zimbabwe in 1983, which rescued India from 17/5.— ICC (@ICC) March 25, 2019
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“India are always a seriously strong team when it comes to World Cup tournaments," he said. "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."
Hales, who has so far racked up 11 Tests, 70 ODIs and 60 T20Is, reflects on his career with pride, but concedes a World Cup winners' medal would be the icing on the cake.
“If someone had said to me 10 years ago that I would play 140 games for my country I would have laughed in their face," he said. "To have achieved that with a few more to come is just amazing and it's been a hell of a ride.
“Hopefully, I can be a World Cup winner which would be a nice start to the next couple of years. There are two World Cups in the next couple of years so my initial aim is to try and get into both of those squads and that would be a great achievement in itself given some of the talent we have got in English cricket at the moment, such as guys like [Hampshire batsman] James Vince who find themselves on the fringe but who is one hell of a player.
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