England started their preparations for the Champions Trophy with a 2-0 series win over Ireland and will play a three-match Royal London ODI series against South Africa before the start of the tournament.
Eoin Morgan’s side will take on Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia in the group stage of the ‘mini World Cup’, which takes place on home soil in June.
“I do think this is England’s best set of one-day players ever,” Vaughan told ecb.co.uk at an event to promote All Stars Cricket, a new grassroots initiative for children aged between five and eight.
“As a group, they have so much going for them – they play the right style, they are very attacking with players who score big hundreds, they field as well as I’ve seen an England side.
“I think the series against South Africa is a fantastic build-up because they are a quality one-day team. It means England will go into the tournament as well prepared as they ever have been.
“They know these conditions, they know the venues, they know the wickets, so they are going to be favourites to win their first 50-over tournament.”
There’s a group of players playing in the county game that I pretty much guarantee 10 years ago would have been in every single England one-day team
England have lost two Champions Trophy finals as tournament hosts, against India at Edgbaston in 2013 and under Vaughan’s captaincy in 2004 when they were defeated by the West Indies at the Oval.
Vaughan feels England’s chances of winning the tournament will come down to key moments in the latter stages of the competition.
“I look at those two teams, particularly mine in 2004, and how we reached the final I will never know!” Vaughan added.
“You look at Jonny Bairstow and he probably won’t make the team. That’s how strong England have become in one-day cricket. There’s a group of players playing in the county game that I pretty much guarantee 10 years ago would have been in every single England one-day team.
“The pool is getting bigger and stronger, the talent is there, they have the expertise, I don’t think it will worry them being on the big stage in front of their home crowd. I just look at it and think ‘can they win the key moments?’
“It’s just about winning in those crucial five overs, someone producing a stupid innings or taking a flying catch, producing a bit of magic. They certainly have enough talent to win the tournament.”
England have won five of their last six ODI series and received a welcome boost with the return of Mark Wood this summer after the Durham bowler’s successful recovery from a third ankle operation within 12 months.
Vaughan feels Wood’s return adds “something different” to the England squad as competition for a place in the starting XI ramps up.
Vaughan added: “In this era of one-day cricket, you have to take wickets. You have to bowl the opposition out because if you allow them to set that foundation, they are going to get huge scores as we have seen regularly around the world.
“I think Wood provides something different, something that opposition won’t fancy facing – 90mph, in these conditions the ball should swing, so I’m excited to see him back.
“Hopefully this is the summer where he doesn’t get too many injuries, he plays a lot of games and he gets that form that we saw for Durham in the T20 finals day last year when he was rottling them down at about 94mph. I think he’s a crucial member of the team.
“This team have won so many games and series together, they have built nicely as a group. The settled nature comes from winning.
“It will take something special to jump ahead of a couple of them in the team. You want players outside of the team looking in thinking ‘I should be in this side’. It’s a good and healthy environment to have created.”
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