England among favourites for Champions Trophy glory, says South Africa skipper AB de Villiers
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 19/05/17 2:01pm
South Africa captain AB de Villiers believes England have learned the lessons from a disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign and will be of the favourites for next month's Champions Trophy.
England, who were dumped out in the group stages of the World Cup after winning only one of their five matches, are currently ranked fifth in the ICC world rankings for the format.
De Villiers' side begin a three-match one-day international series against England in a day-nighter at Headingley on Wednesday - live on Sky Sports - and the 33-year-old is convinced their hosts will be one of the main challengers for Champions Trophy glory.
"They did really well to come back from that," said De Villiers.
"They are a really talented group of players - the way they came back from that earned a lot of respect around the world.
"They must be one of the favourites, in their home country and playing some really good cricket of late."
All-rounder Ben Stokes enjoyed a stunning Indian Premier League (IPL) season, scoring 316 runs and taking 12 wickets in as many matches to help the Rising Pune Supergiants reach the final, which he will now miss after being recalled by England for the South Africa series.
"He's definitely got something special about him," De Villiers added.
"A lot of guys lose their way in the IPL, and others find the next level in their game. Ben Stokes definitely lifted his game and I think it would have done him the world of good."
Meanwhile, De Villiers has made himself unavailable for the Test series against England which follows the Champions Trophy.
"I haven't retired - but I'm not going to change my decision," he said.
"I'll look indecisive, but it's important that I'm feeling physically and mentally healthy, and that's what I decided on."
Watch the opening ODI between England and South Africa on Wednesday. Coverage begins on Sky Sports 2 HD at 1:30pm.
Coverage of the Champions Trophy begins on June 1 when England face Bangladesh at the Kia Oval, live on Sky Sports 2 HD.