Allan Donald has tipped hosts England for Cricket World Cup 2019 glory.
The former South Africa paceman hailed captain Eoin Morgan for ushering in an “aggressive brand” of one-day cricket he never expected from an English outfit.
Ex-Warwickshire seamer Donald also admitted to fearing that South Africa will struggle to fight for the title without batsman AB de Villiers, who has retired from international cricket after a stunning 14-year career.
“I’d have to say watching England, I reckon in their own backyard they will be very tough to beat,” Donald told Press Association Sport.
“The way they take on one-day internationals now it’s a different England from the one I’ve seen.
“I’ll be honest, given what I faced back in the day, I wouldn’t have thought they could get to this point.
“But there’s something about them that I like.
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“They take the game on, play a very aggressive brand of one-day cricket.
And my gut feeling is that they will go a long way in this World Cup.
“The skill is stupendous for most teams now. But England for me, through Eoin Morgan and the coaching staff, have brought a different beast to it.”
De Villiers hit 22 centuries and 46 half centuries in 114 Tests at an average of 50.66, racking up 25 one-day international tons to boot.
The 34-year-old has opted not to push his impressive career through to next year’s World Cup however – with Donald admitting South Africa will feel his loss keenly.
“AB’s a massive, enormous loss,” said Donald, talking at an event to mark one year to go until the start of the World Cup.
“I spoke to him about six months ago and he was pretty adamant he wanted to play in the World Cup.
“So I half expected him to give South Africa real hope that they could win the World Cup.
“I don’t think they are totally out of it. But without AB de Villiers, with him in the team they would have had a huge chance.
“But it’s his choice and I respect that.
“He just said he was tired, He has a very young family, and maybe he just realised it was his time now.
“It happens to all of us. And that you’ve got to respect.
“He’s given South Africa plenty, he has won many games off the back of his own bat.
“His brilliance, his flair, it will be missed. And it will hurt South Africa not having him here next year.
“But it’s also a hugely selfless decision. Knowing AB he’s as dead-on as they come.
“He can walk away with his head held high. He’s achieved everything in the game.”