Jon Superaap

Watson puts heat on Cook for Ashes

AUSSIE all-rounder Shane Watson has thrown down the gauntlet to England Test captain Alastair Cook, questioning whether he can get his team to play with the aggressive style evident in last month's one-day series victory against New Zealand.

Cook (pictured) takes over for the Ashes after Eoin Morgan oversaw the stunning limited-overs success against the World Cup finalists.

Although Cook will no doubt hope to continue that bold approach in the Test arena, Watson said he was sceptical about whether the opener could achieve it.

"I'm not sure if that's exactly in Alastair Cook's DNA, to be really able to put a game on the line," the burly Aussie said. "They've got the quality of players, no doubt, to be able to do it, like we've seen in the recent one-day series, but it's going to be interesting to see how they try and take us on."

Watson is locked in a battle with young West Australian Mitch Marsh for the all-rounder's spot in the first Test in Cardiff next week.

After making a century in the warm-up match against Kent last week, Marsh put together an unbeaten 136 off 151 balls on day one against Essex. Watson managed 52 as Australia reached 6-440 at stumps, with opener David Warner smashing 94 from 86 balls.

One player who looks certain to miss the first Test is paceman Ryan Harris, who was ruled out of the Essex game with knee soreness.

That almost certainly guarantees Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will be the pace trio in Cardiff.