Former West Indies captain Brian Lara has tipped England to win the Champions Trophy beginning next week.
While disappointed not to be watching the West Indies in action at this year’s tournament, Lara – who led his country to Champions Trophy glory in 2004 – insists England have what it takes to go all the way on home soil.
"The ICC Champions Trophy was always one of the high points of my career, especially playing in the final at The Oval in 2004," said Lara.
"I understand that this year’s tournament is going to be bigger and better than ever, so it’s going to be an awesome experience for the fans and us former cricketers to see who is going to lift the trophy.
"I think in these conditions, England will be my firm favourites. After losing out to the West Indies in the World T20, you look at the team now and they have some exciting players.
"England, in the past, would have maybe an Ian Botham or a (Andrew) Flintoff, but now you can look at the entire team and it’s very one-day cricket oriented.
"Today, you look at the England team and you’ve got players playing in the Indian Premier League, and players who are astonishing with both the bat and ball."
England will kick off their Champions Trophy against Bangladesh at The Oval, hoping to make amends for their 2013 campaign in which they lost out to India in the final by five runs.
Former England batsman Jonathan Trott was a member of that squad who just missed out on success at Edgbaston, but, like Lara is confident the 2017 team can right the wrongs of years gone by.
"It would have been so nice to have won the final in 2013, I still have a few nightmares about that, but hopefully this team can go all the way," he said.
"I remember there being such a great vibe in 2013. The English crowds are so loud and can be intimidating.
"England have got the home advantage and they can use that, but there are some good teams around the world in great form, so it’s going to be a really interesting competition.
"England have been playing some really good cricket both home and away, but I don’t necessarily think there’s much pressure on them.
"There’s perhaps a feeling that it’s about time to win a one-day tournament, which would be very nice, and they have been going well in the T20 competition as well. They’ll be going into the Champions Trophy with some good form and some good momentum," he added.