The Warwickshire 'keeper is preparing for his 19th season in English cricket.
Tim Ambrose has seen it all.
The experienced wicket-keeper is on his 19thpre-season in English cricket of which only two were based back in the UK.
After many years of travel, Ambrose is very acclimatised to the March conditions of the UAE and Abu Dhabi following Warwickshire’s visit in 2016.
I don’t think any of the other teams come close to the sort of hours and intensity that our lads have put in.Tim Ambrose
He’s seen mixed pre-season tours, some good, some bad and he’s seen trips grow into good seasons and some not so.
But this trip to him seems different.
Labelling the group as ‘probably the hardest working group I’ve played with for sure’, Ambrose feels this Warwickshire side is eager to stamp their mark on an exciting 2019 season.
The Bears have won both of their 50-over matches in the shadow of the Sheikh Zayed stadium against Somerset and Worcestershire, chasing 275 and 316 respectively.
Of course, it’s very sensible to not judge a pre-season after a few results, but that’s incredibly promising.
Especially when, according to the former England ‘keeper, a culture has been built over the previous seasons.
“It’s been a push for quite a while here from all the previous mangers, coaching staff and everyone involved from the top of the club to build that work effort and culture and push these guys to wanting to be better and wanting to put the yards in,” the 36-year-old said. “And now you see that development.
“This is as good a group I’ve seen in terms of their energy, their willingness to learn, eagerness to train and get better, it’s got a great work ethic and ethos about it.”
Jim Troughton has put the Bears through their paces alongside Bowling Coach Graeme Welch, Batting Coach Tony Frost, Second Team Coach Ian Westwood and Strength and Conditioning Coach Jack Murfin.
With only one full rest day, the squad have netted most days including a morning of a 100 over open net as well as regular gym and pool sessions.
“We’re here with a number of other teams and sometimes at this time of the season you can have a bit of a look and see where you’re at compared to other teams and I don’t think any of the other teams come close to the sort of hours and intensity that our lads have put in,” Ambrose added.
“I think that’s been built over a good few years and it helps having a young, keen squad, but they’ve embraced this winter with great energy and enthusiasm and that’s not easy to do.
“But they’ve done it really well and that bodes well from here on. It’s only work done then, the most important bit is yet to come, but if you get that bit right you’ll give yourself the best chance.”
Warwickshire’s promotion from Division Two last season wasn’t a huge surprise to many as a young, exciting squad, with bags of potential were led by a strong group of experienced county cricketers.
But with Jonathan Trott retiring, Ian Bell facing up to three months out, and Keith Barker and Chris Wright moving onto pastures new, Ambrose is part of a much smaller leadership committee.
Only five capped players remain, and with Chris Woakes expected to play a pivotal part in England’s World Cup and Ashes aspirations, the burden will be carried by the remaining four – Ambrose, Bell, Sam Hain and Jeetan Patel.
When asked however, Ambrose shrugged off any expectancy on the group and took a different angle by looking at the forthcoming season ‘at slightly the bigger picture’.
Especially when he believes there’s an opportunity to develop these young players into a squad for many years to come.
“I think it’s important certainly at this stage to look at slightly the bigger picture,” Ambrose concluded.
“I mean these guys go out there to win every game, every session and every ball and I wouldn’t doubt that for a second – that’s what we’ll be approaching it as.
“But I think there’s a number of guys who can really make a mark and take this club forward for potentially a decade and this year is going to be crucial for their development.
“If a number of them step up and take their opportunities there’s no limit to where we can get to.
“I think it’s quite good with the expectations perhaps from outside because we probably won’t be much fancied and we’ll be realistic with where our cricket is at the minute.
“But we’re coming off a season with good confidence, guys who are busting to get their opportunity and take it, so there’s no reason we can’t surprise.
“Even If you look at it on paper we’ve got a fantastic team. Our bowling depth has been improved this year and we’ve got a number of talented batters who in my opinion are going to be long term pros, some very good players, and some internationals cricketers.
“And at some stage they have breakthrough years and this year is an opportunity for that so I don’t think we’ll put a limit on where they can go but I think our development and growth as a team and individuals is in my opinion the short term goal to focus on.
“It’s a cliché but it’s a long season and there’s a lot of ups and a lot of downs. Lots of form and dips out of it as well and that’s the team not just individuals.
“There’s a lot going to happen and we’re going to come up against a lot of different challenges from last year and if we learn and grow from those tougher situations that’s what will hold us in good stead going forward.
“There’s a lot on this season, there always is, and we’ll be aiming high, but I think it’s important for this group to make sure that we’re growing and going in the right direction. That’s the number one target.
“If we focus on that then the results and performances will take care of themselves.
“As long as we keep building on what we have at the moment and moving that forward then skies the limit.”