No firm favourites for the 2011 World Cup: Fletcher

Johannesburg, Jan 14 (PTI) With teams such as India,South Africa and England at their peak, former England coachDuncan Fletcher feels the ICC World Cup 2011 will have noclear favourite.

Australia''s downfall in world cricket has seen theemergence of India, South Africa, England and Fletcher said itwas not possible to predict a winner for the upcomingmega-event.

"It is going to be an open World Cup. There are no firmfavorites," said Fletcher.

"Currently, three teams India, South Africa and Englandare playing at their peak. But all the three teams have theirset of strengths and weaknesses," he added.

Fletcher also warned that apart from these three nations,even Sri Lanka could not be ruled out.

"You can''t rule out Sri Lanka. They are always adangerous side," he said.

Elaborating on England''s strengths and weaknesses, the62-year-old Englishman said, "England can be considered a goodathletic side in one-day cricket. And the best part is theirconfidence is high after beating Australia on their backyard.

"But they do struggle on the slow wickets of thesub-continent because in England they don''t play on thosesorts of wickets. Few of the young players might find itdifficult to adjust to the conditions here," he said.

Fletcher said South Africa would be a huge threat butadded that even though Australia are no longer the team theyused to be they could never be underestimated.

"SA are undoubtedly going to be huge threat. With playinglike Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers in their ranks, they wouldbe a force to reckon with," he said.

"No one can though never write off Australia ever," saidthe former coach, adding that the same holds true forPakistani team as well.

Although claiming that India were the favourites at themoment, Fletcher said that the hosts would be under tremendouspressure to perform on their home ground.

"India are be favorites at this stage. But on their homeground, they would be under enormous pressure. Whether theycan handle that pressure would determine a lot of things.

"The pressure is being added by the success of the IPL.

Not necessarily because the Indian players do well in the IPLbut because of the mere fact that the cash-rich tournamenttakes place in India.

Meanwhile, talking about the key factors during the WorldCup, Fletcher said that role of spinners would be crucial.

"I really believe that the spinners are going to becrucial. Also, I think fitness would be a key issue as it''sgoing to be hot there. Adapting to the sub-continent wicketswould be another key area as a lot will depend on applying theright techniques," he said.

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