They say that your schooldays are the happiest days of your life. It’s easy to agree with that nowadays, facing as we do the difficult choice of either writing 800 words about Ronnie Irani’s finest Test innings (41 vs. India back in 1996, as we’re sure everyone knows) or taking another lashing from Editor Steve’s Indiana Jones style whip. And yet for some of us school was a difficult time, beset with insecurities: why did no-one like us? What could we do to be more popular?
We’re willing to bet that our latest Unlikely Lad had no such problems. And the reason for this? He had not one, but two fit sisters, surely enough to make him the most popular boy in his year. Put it this way, had we gone to his school we’d have been more than happy to come around his house and show off how grownup we were by introducing him to Hendrick’s gin. And loudly, so that anyone in his house would definitely hear and be impressed.
Of course, the obvious thing to do now would be to post a picture of Tim Ambrose’s delightful sisters. Unfortunately our research (i.e. typing “Tim Ambrose’s sisters” into Google Images) completely failed to provide one. Hence we’ll have to go for the next best thing and use the only picture that actually comes up in said search (and which, it transpires, is already on this very site):
The Tim Ambrose story is a familiar one. Man takes up cricket, becomes wicketkeeper, plays county cricket, does okay, gets called up for England, goes bald, turns out to be crap. Even by England wicketkeeper standards, his stay was a short one, comprising just 11 tests, five ODIs and single T20I. The ODIs were a particular highlight: they all came against New Zealand in the summer of June 2008 with Tiny Tim contributing a mighty ten runs from his five innings (with a 1* helping his average balloon to the heady heights of 2.50) as England lost the series 3-1. Indeed, only some rather fortunately timed weather prevented England losing the other game. These were heady days for England’s limited overs side.
Ambrose’s Test career was a little more productive. Brought into the side in early 2008 to replace Matt Prior (for reasons that no-one seems to actually know; Prior had averaged more than 40 on the preceding tour of Sri Lanka), Ambrose made a patient 55 to help England avoid the follow on against New Zealand in his first innings, before making a less patient duck to help them lose by 174 runs in his second. Then came his breakthrough innings, a man of the match winning hundred as England squared the series in Wellington.
It was an innings that sticks in the memory; partly because it seemed to consist of Ambrose’s solitary shot, the square cut, being repeated ad infinitum, but mainly for the regular shots of his sisters in the crowd. For an England fan staying up until 5am in the cold spring morning to watch his side struggling in New Zealand, said sisters were a most welcome sight.
Ambrose played in the third Test as England came from behind to win the series, before keeping his place for the return series the following summer that also ended in victory. However, from then on the wheels rather fell off: four Tests against South Africa brought just 97 runs at an average of 16 as England were beaten at home. Michael Vaughan stepped down as captain, replaced by Kevin Pietersen and England looked to a new era.
It was an era that began in style – England winning the final Test at the Oval – before tapering off at a frightening rate. Ambrose was replaced by Prior for the tour of India (which the home side won 1-0 after chasing down 387 in Chennai) but, after a minor Pietersen/Moores disagreement, was still part of the squad that travelled to the West Indies to be hilariously skittled for 51 in the first game. We may have mentioned that one before.
By now Matt Prior was clearly developing into a top class keeper/batsman and the writing was on the wall for Tiny Tim (and not for the first time – The Flying Beard had previously usurped him at Sussex). Fate still threw one last chance his way though, when Prior missed the fourth Test for the birth of his first child. Despite making 76* in the first innings, nobody bar the Ambrose sisters was overly impressed due to the hilariously flat nature of the pitch; England making 600/6 and 279/2, the West Indies 749/9.
Prior returned for the fifth Test and hasn’t missed a match since. For Ambrose it was back to county cricket, where he’s continued to perform for Warwickshire, winning the County Championship in 2012.
We’ll leave the final word to the man himself, in which he chooses his ideal dinner party guests, for some reason foolishly declining to invite his sisters along, bizarrely preferring instead the less feminine features of Eva Mendes.