Warwickshire wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose has been called into the England one-day and Test squads to tour New Zealand this year.

Ambrose replaces Sussex man Matt Prior, who has paid the price for a below-par performance in the Test series defeat in Sri Lanka last month. Durham wicketkeeper Philip Mustard also retains his place in the squad.

Chairman of selectors David Graveney said: "Tim Ambrose fully deserves an opportunity at this level following impressive performances for the England Performance squad in India before Christmas and for Warwickshire last season.

"Matt Prior performed well with the bat in Sri Lanka and it has been a difficult decision to leave him out of this tour. But the selectors feel that he needs to further improve his wicket-keeping in order to realise his full potential in international cricket."

Ambrose, 25, was born in Australia and only moved to England eight years ago for a three-day trial with Sussex - but he considers himself English.

"I've lived all my adult life here and it is my home," he said. "It's where all my friends are and I haven't actually been to Australia for a few years. I'm very proud to have the opportunity to hopefully represent the country.

"I'm friends with Matt and I'm sure he'll be very disappointed - you can call it rivalry, it's been healthy competition."

The pair were rivals at Hove before Ambrose moved to Warwickshire at the end of the 2005 season, where he is now first-choice.

Ambrose has long been hailed as county cricket's most attacking wicketkeeper-batsman and he admits he can't wait to stake his claim for the position which has proven a major headache following the retirement of Alec Stewart.

"I'm a wicketkeeper-batsman as everyone knows and it's my job now to step up and try and fill that spot as well as I can and that's what I'll be aiming to do," Ambrose said. "There's competition for all places and I think that's healthy. It's always good to have someone behind pushing you on and making sure you're doing everything right and doing the best you can.

"If I get the chance then hopefully I can help England win matches.

Ambrose was part of the England Lions touring party to India last year and feels his performances there acted as proof he was ready for a bigger stage.

"I think it was confirmation more than anything else that I am ready to take on the challenge at the next level," he added.  "It was a valuable experience and I feel better for it."

James Foster and Chris Read were also considered for the New Zealand Tests but selectors have gone for an uncapped pair in Ambrose and Mustard.

Graveney revealed that Prior's indifferent form with the gloves during the Test series with Sri Lanka was the reason for his exclusion.

"I assure you the wicketkeeper has been a well discussed area since Alec Stewart retired," he told Sky Sports News.
"It was a difficult decision, all decisions are difficult.  We felt in this instance, as well as he has batted, there are areas of his wicketkeeping he needs to work at and that's why we made that decision.

"It's a double factor, wicketkeeping is crucial and so is the ability to score runs. I'm sure Matt will be back."

Graveney admitted he has been unable to speak to Prior to inform him of the decision.

"I speak to players that have been left out," he added.  "In this instance I have been unable to contact Matt Prior. I have been working closely with his agent, Alec Stewart, but I regret sincerely that that phone call hasn't been made.

"When I speak to him I'll tell him why we made the decision."

England squad to play five one-day internationals in New Zealand next month: P
Collingwood (capt, Durham), A Cook (Essex), I Bell (Warwickshire), K Pietersen
(Hampshire), L Wright (Sussex), O Shah (Middlesex), R Bopara (Essex), T Ambrose
(wkt, Warwickshire), P Mustard (wkt, Durham), J Anderson (Lancashire), S Broad
(Nottinghamshire), D Mascarenhas (Hampshire), R Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), G
Swann (Nottinghamshire), J Tredwell (Kent), C Tremlett (Hampshire)

England squad to play three Test matches in New Zealand in March: M Vaughan
(capt, Yorkshire), A Strauss (Middlesex), A Cook (Essex), I Bell (Warwickshire),
K Pietersen (Hampshire), O Shah (Middlesex), P Collingwood (Durham), P Mustard
(wkt, Durham), T Ambrose (wkt, Warwickshire), J Anderson (Lancashire), S Broad
(Nottinghamshire), S Harmison (Durham), M Hoggard (Yorkshire), M Panesar
(Northamptonshire), R Sidebottom, (Nottinghamshire), G Swann (Nottinghamshire).