Ashes the backdrop for England-Oz ODIs
London: England and Australia meet in a five-match one-day international series starting at Hampshire`s Rose Bowl ground on Tuesday knowing their every move will be scrutinised for its Ashes relevance.
For England, who will defend the Ashes in Australia starting in November, this series allows them the chance to complete a notable treble over their oldest cricket rivals.
Having won last year`s Test series in England, they beat Australia in last month`s World Twenty20 final in Barbados to claim their first major global limited overs trophy.
Victory in the one-day series would give England bragging rights over Australia in all three international formats.
Trying to construct form lines from one-day cricket to Test cricket is an often unsatisfactory business and the teams that take the field on Tuesday are likely to be different to those that walk out at Brisbane in November.
England captain Andrew Strauss and Australia counterpart Ricky Ponting will both be back in charge after each missed the World Twenty20 because they have each opted out of the format.
But England are currently resting Ashes pace prospect Steven Finn in order for the lanky Middlesex quick to undergo strength work.
Meanwhile Australia have arrived in England without several injured quicks in Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Brett Lee and Ben Hilfenhaus.
First-choice wicketkeeper Brad Haddin is also sidelined, with Tim Paine now behind the stumps.
However, star batsman Ponting is well aware of the context now facing an Australia side who are still the reigning world champions in the 50-over game and beat England 6-1 in a one-day campaign last year after losing the Ashes.
"Whenever there is a big series coming up the build-up starts a fair way out - and for the Ashes it`s already started," said Ponting.
"Pretty much from now until the Ashes are over and done with in the middle of January, everything we do will have some sort of focus on the Ashes series.”
"There will be no excuses for us come late November." Discarded England batsman Owais Shah said Australia`s pace attack lacked the "X-factor" after scoring 92 for Middlesex against the tourists in their final warm-up match at Lord`s on Saturday.
Left-arm quick Doug Bollinger was the stand out Aussie quick at Lord`s while Clint McKay and Ryan Harris struggled.
Even so, just because a bowler may not be the `new Glenn McGrath` is no bar to a successful international career and there is no better way for an Australian cricketer to make his name than against England
"It`s a great chance for guys to get exposure, like Doug Bollinger," Ponting said. We`ve got to impose ourselves right from the start and gather some momentum for the series."
England, who warmed up for the series with a comfortable win over Scotland on Saturday, are well aware of what is at stake in a series that will see Strauss open the innings alongside Craig Kieswetter, one of the stars of England`s World Twenty20 winning team.
Paul Collingwood, the Twenty20 captain and a key member of all England teams is hoping history can repeat itself at the Rose Bowl.
The first meeting between the sides of the 2005 Ashes tour of England saw the hosts thrash Australia by 100 runs in a Twenty20 international at Hampshire`s headquarters.
England then went on to win the Ashes for the first time in 19 years.
"We all remember that Twenty20 game at Hampshire where we kept nipping them out," said Collingwood. "You`ve got to go hard at them. We`ve learnt that over the last five or six years.”
"If you go hard at them and it comes off, it puts them under a lot of pressure. The 2005 series was a prime example because we had a lot of skill but also went hard at them and we`ll continue to do that."