Shane Watson
Shane Watson Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Watson wants to draw first blood

AUSTRALIAN vice-captain Shane Watson wants to draw first blood in the battle for the Ashes.

The all-rounder believes Australia can deliver an early blow in the lead-up to next year's showdown when it takes on England in the one-day international series later this month.

The two arch enemies will go head-to-head over five matches, starting at Lord's on June 29.

Watson has called on his teammates to stand up and make a statement.

"You've got to make the most of any series you play against England, especially in England with next year's Ashes coming up," he said.

"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 make our mark here leading into next year."

At the same time, Watson said he was wary of underestimating England after it wrapped up a sixth consecutive home ODI series win with victory over the West Indies earlier this week.

And while England's rotation policy has again come under fire this week after Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann have been rested for the series finale against the Windies tonight, Watson said all leading players needed a break to manage the demands of the international calendar.

"That's the only way to try and preserve your best bowlers and best players," he said.

"It also gives younger and less experienced guys an opportunity to play international cricket so if something does happen they are ready to step up.

"That's the way forward for all teams - to be able to balance the workload by actually bringing through some younger guys and freshening up the more experienced players."

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