ENGLAND'S cricketers go in search of a World Cup semi-final spot today.

And while Darren Eckford would naturally love to see New Zealand win, the Colchester and East Essex captain believes the hosts are favourites to claim victory in the vital final group game in Durham.

England know they will reach the last four of the competition with a victory over the Black Caps who lie a point above them in third place but have lost their last two matches, against Pakistan and Australia.

“My heart is with New Zealand but I think England will probably nick it,” said Eckford, who played club cricket in New Zealand for a number of years and represented Auckland A before joining Colchester, in 2016.

“England have potentially the most talented squad in the competition.

“The pressure of playing at home in a tournament can sometimes derail that, especially with the media in this country being a bit more severe.

“New Zealand is in a bit of a state of flux at the moment.

“They had a stable team but then made lots of changes for the Australia game, which didn’t work.

“I can see them making more changes for this one and I think they’re struggling a bit to find their team.

“England have Jason Roy back and that makes them more dynamic, at the top of the order.”

Eckford spent 15 years at Suburbs New Lynn and was player-coach at the Auckland premier cricket club, prior to leaving to move to England.

During his time playing in New Zealand, the experienced fast bowler rubbed shoulders with the likes of Jimmy Neesham, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro and Colin de Grandhomme, who are all currently in the Black Caps’ World Cup squad.

Former Colchester and East Essex wicket-keeper Tom Blundell, who played as the club’s overseas player in 2012 and 2013, is also part of the Kiwis’ squad.

“I still fancy New Zealand to win the tournament,” added Eckford.

“The structure of the competition is such that once you get into the last four, you just need to win two games to win it.

“It’s pretty tough to pick a winner but you just have to go with what your heart is and that’s why I’ll say New Zealand but India are the dark horses for me.”