Tim Ambrose has the chance to resume his Test career in Barbados on Thursday after Matt Prior left the tour following the birth of his first child. It means England will now have to make at least two changes to the team after Andrew Flintoff was ruled out with his hip injury.
"Like anyone who has had a taste and has been left out you are always keen to get back in," Ambrose said. "You work on the areas that you feel that you needed to improve on and that's what I've been doing during the time out. At my age, and this stage of my career, I think there is unfinished business and I'd like to try and push on with that."
Prior received news of the birth in the early hours of Monday morning and will fly out on Monday evening. It had been a long-standing arrangement that he would leave the tour at some stage, but the original plan was that he would head home on March 2 and miss the final Test. "This is a special set of circumstances," Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, said. "Matt is well aware of the situation we are in out here but we have provision for paternity leave and he is within his rights to take that."
He isn't the first England player to leave a tour in such circumstances. The current captain, Andrew Strauss, missed the final Test against Pakistan, in Lahore, in 2005-06 to be at the birth of his first child. Prior is now due back in time for the Trinidad game, so this could be a one-off chance for Ambrose although, if he makes runs and holds his catches, the selectors will be faced with a tricky decision and Prior runs the risk of losing his place.
Stephen Davies, the Worcestershire wicketkeeper, will now join the tour from the Lions in New Zealand. He is part of the one-day squad and had been due to cover for Prior's absence, but will now arrive on Wednesday evening.
Ambrose made 74 on the opening day against a Barbados Cricket Association President's XI on Sunday, so at least he has some form behind him going into the crucial match. "To know from the start has given me an incentive to work hard and keep myself prepared," he said. "It's a week earlier, but yesterday and today have gone pretty well so I feel ready.
"I was looking forward to some time in the middle because it has been a little while. It was good to spend a few hours out there to get used to the conditions and it's useful that it's only a few days away from the game.
"It's hopefully a chance to win a game for England and a chance for me to contribute. I'm excited, I've waited a while for another go so am looking forward to it. I feel pretty ready for the week coming up."
Ambrose scored 102 in his second Test, against New Zealand at Wellington, and it turned into a series-turning performance as England came from 1-0 down to take the contest. It is a position they find themselves in once again after the nail-biting draw at the ARG. This will be Ambrose's first Test since he was dropped following the South Africa Test series in August in which he failed to pass 36 in four matches.
"I was fairly pleased with my performances but I would have liked to have contributed more during the South Africa series," Ambrose said. "We were all very keen to try and come out on top in that one and it was very disappointing not to. I went back to Warwickshire, worked hard and was pleased with my performances. I got on the winter tours which was my aim."
In the second Test of the South Africa series, at Headingley, he batted at No. 6 and looked out of his depth as England were crushed by 10 wickets, but he said he'd be willing to take on any role for the team. "Just to get in the XI for England is a privilege so whatever they ask me to do I'll give it everything I have."