|Event:||ICC World Cup 2006/07|
DateLine: 2nd March 2007
England skipper Michael Vaughan believes England can be a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup after their recent one-day renaissance.
Two months ago England looked down and out, licking their wounds after a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
But Vaughan's brief return from injury sparked a stunning turnaround and England stormed to victory in the tri-nations series with three straight wins over Australia.
With world champions Australia then going on to a series defeat against New Zealand, the England captain believes his squad are one of the form teams going into the 16-nation tournament which starts in the West Indies on March 11.
"From where we were six weeks ago, the tournament's dark horses are us," said Vaughan whose team will arrive in the Caribbean later Friday.
"The World Cup is wide open for one of the top eight teams to go on and win it.
"Since 1992 we haven't performed in a World Cup. That is why this is a great opportunity and a real special moment.
"You don't get many times in your career to do something special. We did it in 2005 with the Ashes. This group of players really feel as if they have something to prove in the one-day game and that is what we are setting out to do.
"If we get our momentum right and our game right there is no reason we can't go a long way in the tournament.
"Winning the Commonwealth Bank Series (in Australia) gives us confidence that if we do the basics well we can play against any team in the world and be very competitive.
"I just hope over the next six to eight weeks we can have a good campaign and come home with something special in our hands."
England face warm-up matches against Bermuda on Monday and the Australians four days later in St Vincent before launching their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on March 16 in St Lucia.
Since losing to England, Australia have also fallen to a 3-0 series defeat in New Zealand and been overtaken on top of the world rankings by South Africa.
They will also go into the tournament without injured striker bowler Brett Lee.
"Most teams are strong in areas and weak in others. Australia will be competitive and New Zealand will be very difficult to beat. I wouldn't like to say one team are the favourites," said Vaughan who has played only three of England's last 35 one-day internationals after his long-awaited comeback from knee surgery was curtailed by a hamstring injury.
He expects to have recovered in time to face New Zealand - if not, Andrew Flintoff will captain England.
"Hopefully it won't come to that. The hamstring has got better and better," said Vaughan.
"I will play a part against Bermuda and more so against Australia. It is a gradual process."
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)