INDIAN cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar has backed Ben Stokes to fire England to World Cup glory this summer and fill the void left by injuries to Jason Roy and skipper Eoin Morgan against Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

The Durham all-rounder has 118 runs and five wickets so far in the competition and had the Oval crowd up on their feet after scoring 89 and taking a stunning catch in England’s 104-run victory over South Africa on the opening day.

The three-time runners up suffered a disappointing defeat to Pakistan in their next game but recovered well to beat Bangladesh and the West Indies convincingly.

Despite their stumble, Gavaskar – who won the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 1983 – said Stokes is key to England’s success and is backing the No.1 ranked side in the world to go on to lift the trophy.

He said: “Ben Stokes is a game changer. He’s an all-rounder in the truest sense of the term – he’s an outstanding fielder, he bowls and gets you wickets, and he comes in and clubs the ball a long way.

“In the first game [v South Africa] he showed good patience at the start, and then he came in and clobbered the ball around.

“He is truly a fantastic cricketer and he is the one that can swing it for England.

“My favourites for the last three years have always been England.

“I think they should’ve won the Champions Trophy two years ago, but sometimes when it comes to the knockout stages you have one bad day and you are out of the tournament.

“But the way England have been playing and the way they recovered after losing to Pakistan doesn’t bode too well for the other teams.”

As well as Stokes, England boast a plethora of stars in their 13-man squad that has seen them emerge as many people’s pick to lift the trophy for the first time.

Jason Roy’s 153 against Bangladesh sees him top the chart for the tournament’s highest score, while Joe Root has the third highest average with 93 and Jofra Archer has the fourth highest number of wickets with four.

Gavaskar believes England’s strength in depth puts them ahead of their rivals in the chase for the World crown.

“Their opening batting has been fantastic,” he said.

“Jos Buttler is another who finishes brilliantly, and the bowling attack is sensational, but more than anything else I think it’s the leadership they’ve got.

“In Eoin Morgan they’ve really got somebody who’s brought the team together and it’s a totally different outlook to limited overs cricket than you might’ve seen before.

“It’s been horses for courses and I think that’s why England are winning.”

Manchester hosted its first #CWC19 fixture on Sunday between India and Pakistan. To celebrate the arrival of the Cricket World Cup to the city, the Fanzone in Cathedral Gardens showed live screenings of all World Cup action over the weekend, along with live music, entertainment and food.