Watson wants to lay down Ashes marker

All-rounder Shane Watson believes Australia can deliver an early blow in the lead-up to next year's Ashes when they meet England in the upcoming one-day international series.

Australia will reacquaint themselves with the old enemy over five matches, starting at Lord's on June 29, in their first meetings since England's drought-breaking Ashes tour 18 months ago.

He told a press conference ahead of their tour-opening match at Leicester on Thursday: "You've got to make the most of any series you play against England, especially in England with next year's Ashes coming up."

Since the Ashes tour, Australia have undergone a reconstruction, on and off the field, with Michael Clarke replacing Ricky Ponting as skipper while South African Mickey Arthur was installed as their first ever foreign coach.

The emergence of young quicks Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, who are set to make their first appearances on these shores, have also provided an insight into the Aussies' next generation.

Both could be key to any Australian success next summer and with pre-Ashes psychology certain to provide an undercurrent to the upcoming series, Watson believes that should they, and his team, deliver over the next month then the tourists will have taken an early edge.

"First of all it's a great time for the younger guys to experience what it is like to play in England, but it is also an opportunity to be able to make our mark here in England as well leading into next year's Ashes. Hopefully we can play the cricket that we know we can and get the result that we want."

Watson is wary of underestimating England, however, after they wrapped up a sixth consecutive home ODI series win with their victory over West Indies on Tuesday.

England's hopes had seemingly been undermined before the series following Kevin Pietersen's untimely retirement from limited overs cricket. However, in his absence openers Ian Bell and Alastair Cook have both scored centuries to ensure an unassailable 2-0 lead with the final match at Headingley on Friday.

"Ian Bell is a world-class player. For me it had been a little surprising that he hadn't taken on the one-day game as he has because he's a highly-skilled player and hits the ball in great areas," he said. "It's no surprise to me that he's performing the way he has in these past couple of games."