Australia the team to beat, says Graeme Hick

FORMER England international Graeme Hick has a pretty fair idea of what it takes to win World Cups.

While he never won one himself, he played in three with his adopted country.

He also got to see Indian maestro Kapil Dev almost single-handedly win the 1983 tournament with India, as a youngster in the Zimbabwe squad.

Hick is now Australia's high performance coach - charged mainly with looking after the Australia A and under-19 players.

And he believes Australia deserves its favourite tag for the World Cup starting on Saturday, with the Aussies to host England at the MCG in front of a crowd of more than 90,000.

The 48-year-old believes the world No.1 outfit will relish the role of co-hosting the tournament alongside New Zealand, in its quest for its fifth world title.

Hick's England team choked under the pressure of hosting the 1999 World Cup, bowing out after just the group stage, but he said he believed the Australians would not have the same problem.

"I think it'll just be down to someone else playing better on the day.

"They're used to playing in front of big crowds and having that expectation and the tag of being the favourites.

"I think they'll thrive on it, and I'd be surprised if that's their undoing."

The match against the Old Enemy to open Australia's tournament is a mouth-watering fixture, but Hick said he expected the hosts would win because they have advanced their short-form game much better.

That's not to mention the hold Australia has over England at the moment - racking up an 11-1 record across Tests, one-dayers and T20s last summer, before adding three more victories in the recent one-day triangular series.

"I don't think England has moved its one-day cricket as fast as it's moved everywhere else," Hick said.

"The way the modern one-day game is played, I think England is lagging behind a little bit, especially on the batting front.

"It's been hard to see England being able to chase down 300 on a regular basis.

"Nowadays in one-day cricket that's the norm - you've got to be expected to do that."