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Last Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008, 16:34 GMT
England drop Prior for NZ series
Matt Prior
Prior's high-profile errors with the gloves in Sri Lanka cost him a place
England have dropped wicket-keeper Matt Prior for the forthcoming tour of New Zealand after a series of spilled catches in the defeat in Sri Lanka.

The Sussex gloveman is replaced by Warwickshire's Tim Ambrose, who will compete with Phil Mustard for a place.

Andrew Strauss, who will bat for New Zealand state side the Northern Knights before the tour, returns to the Test squad after missing the Sri Lanka trip.

Kent spinner James Tredwell is named in the one-day squad for the first time.

Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara is also included in the one-day party, but has been dropped for the Test series, with Middlesex batsman Owais Shah retaining his place in both squads.

Chairman of selectors David Graveney said: "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.

It's harsh but fair on Matt... he simply dropped too many catches.

BBC Sport's Jonathan Agnew

"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. But I'm sure Matt will be back, there's no doubt about that."

Former England captain and wicket-keeper Alec Stewart revealed it was he who broke the bad news to Prior, who is currently on holiday in the United States.

"He was hard to get hold of, but I ended up reaching him and telling him the news," Stewart told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"I wished him a Happy New Year then told him he wasn't in the squads. I don't think he was fully aware that the announcement was going to be made today."

Graveney - who revealed he had been unable to contact Prior - said that Ambrose, who scored 858 runs in last year's Championship at an average of 45.15, would start as first-choice keeper in Tests and Mustard in the one-dayers.

And Ambrose, who was born in Australia, revealed his "pride" at the call-up, saying: "I've lived all my adult life here and it is my home. It's where all my friends are and I haven't actually been to Australia for a few years.

606: DEBATE
handledball

"I'm very proud to have the opportunity to hopefully represent the country.

"I'm friends with Matt (Prior) and I'm sure he'll be very disappointed. You can call it rivalry but it's been healthy competition."

Meanwhile, Graveney hinted that Strauss would open alongside Alastair Cook, with Michael Vaughan dropping to three and Ian Bell to six.

"Strauss needed a break from international cricket in our view and he will now be keen to re-establish himself in the Test side," he said.

"His experience will be of benefit to the squad as a whole and his inclusion will also provide us with alternative options if required at the top of the batting order.

"Tredwell has performed well for Kent in the domestic one-day game and continued to impress in India with the Performance Squad. This is an excellent opportunity for him to show that he can step up to the next level."

Ian Bell has been successful at number three but he will probably have to move down the order

BBC Sport's Jonathan Agnew

BBC Sport's Jonathan Agnew said: "It's harsh but fair on Matt. They would have considered his good form with the bat, but he simply dropped too many catches.

"There were the dropped catches of India's Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, while Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene was dropped twice at Galle.

"As a result, I think Mustard could become the number one with Ambrose as his understudy."

He added: "Where Strauss fits in will be interesting. Ian Bell has been successful at number three but he will probably have to move down the order."

Meanwhile, Sussex batsman Michael Yardy has been named as captain of the England Lions squad which will compete in the Duleep Trophy in India later this month.

Monty Panesar will tour India with the Lions prior to joining up with England's Test squad in New Zealand.


England's one-day squad to tour New Zealand:
P, Collingwood (Durham, capt), T Ambrose (Warks), J Anderson (Lancs), I Bell (Warks), R Bopara (Essex), S Broad (Notts), A Cook (Essex), D Mascarenhas (Hants), P Mustard (Durham), K Pietersen (Hants), O Shah (Middx), R Sidebottom (Notts), G Swann (Notts), J Tredwell (Kent), C Tremlett (Hants), L Wright (Sussex).

England's Test squad to tour New Zealand:
M Vaughan (Yorks, capt), T Ambrose (Warks), J Anderson (Lancs), I Bell (Warks), S Broad (Notts), P Collingwood (Durham), A Cook (Essex), S Harmison (Durham), M Hoggard (Yorks), P Mustard (Durham), M Panesar (Northants), K Pietersen (Hants), O Shah (Middx), R Sidebottom (Notts), A Strauss (Middx), G Swann (Notts).

England Lions squad to tour India:
M Yardy (Sussex, capt), K Ali (Worcs), M Carberry (Hants), S Davies (Worcs), J Denly (Kent), J Hildreth (Somerset), E Joyce (Middx), G Onions (Durham), M Panesar (Northants), L Plunkett (Durham), A Rashid (Yorks), A Richardson (Middx), J Trott (Warks)



SEE ALSO
Jonathan Agnew column
04 Jan 08 |  Cricket
Six cricketers to watch in 2008
31 Dec 07 |  Cricket
Matt Prior column
17 Dec 07 |  England
'Outplayed' England lose ranking
22 Dec 07 |  England
Strauss hopes for England return
06 Dec 07 |  England
Ruthless England discard Strauss
19 Oct 07 |  England
Ambrose aiming to emulate Prior
10 Jul 07 |  Counties
England in New Zealand 2008
03 Jul 07 |  Cricket


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