Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar believes England have every chance of retaining the Ashes on Australian soil this winter.
Tendulkar, widely regarded as one of the best batsmen in the history of the game, believes England's chances will largely depend on the form of Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann down under, while he also expects Test rookie Eoin Morgan to feature prominently.
Tendulkar was speaking in London at a NatWest celebration to mark its 30th season supporting English cricket.
Tendulkar, in his capacity as global ambassador for the RBS Group, kicked-off the start of the 2010 NatWest series which will see England play Australia, Bangladesh and Pakistan in 13 one-day internationals and two T20 events from June to September this year.
But with the focus clearly on England's bid to retain the Ashes in Australia this winter, Tendulkar was adamant that they had every chance against an Australia side still in the process of rebuilding.
Tendulkar, 37, believes England will be high in confidence following their ICC World Twenty20 success in the West Indies in April.
"I think England have a good chance of retaining the Ashes," said Tendulkar.
"The key members for England will be Pietersen, Morgan, and in the bowling department - Swann.
"For me they will be the key members of the team. Then after that you have the experience of Andrew Strauss, so they can do something special in Australia.
"Swann will play a big role so I think England definitely have a good chance.
"Also, from what I have seen of Morgan, he looks a solid player. He can control the pace of the game quite nicely - certainly in T20 and one-day matches.
"The winning of a major tournament gives you confidence and this is what winning the ICC T20 World Cup has done for England.
"I am sure at this moment England feel as though they can pull off any situation. It's all about confidence and positive energy and once you have this, then anything is possible.
"I would not use the word vulnerable to describe Australia. But they have lost some match-winners.
"They are going to miss those players and it takes time to replace them."
Tendulkar is currently taking a break from the game to spend time with his family but will return to play for India against Sri Lanka in a Test series which starts in July.
After that, he has set his sights on lifting the 2011 World Cup with India in Mumbai.
The country are currently the Test game's world number one and Tendulkar is extremely proud of that achievement.
But to secure World Cup victory on home soil would be the pinnacle of his outstanding career.
"I want to play for as long as possible and as long as I have the desire and the hunger I will carry on," he added. "The day I do not want to get out of bed and do anything then I know it will be time to go in another direction.
"To be number one is special, it was our dream and our target to get to the number one spot in Test cricket.
"We have had a good run in the last 20 months. Everyone wants to be number one and we cannot relax because there are other countries who want to be number one. It means a lot to us.
"As far as the World Cup is concerned it is a process. We don't want to jump to the 50th floor, we must start on the ground floor.
"We must take it step-by-step but to get there would be a fascinating journey. It is our dream, not just mine but the entire nation, to get there. To play the final in Mumbai is something you can only dream of and everything has to come together.
"But if we can play to the best of our potential then I think we can do something we have been longing to do for quite some time."