England news September 14, 2012

Ambrose reveals depression battle

ESPNcricinfo staff

Tim Ambrose, the former England wicketkeeper, has revealed his battle against depression that almost ended his professional career.

Ambrose, 29, who played 11 Tests , five ODIs and a T20 for England, has spoken openly about achieving his life-long ambition of playing international cricket was followed by him losing "all direction" and believing his career was over in 2010.

"I was awake 24 hours a day, with things going around in my head," he told the Daily Telegraph. "I was beyond miserable. It felt like I had this duvet that was soaking wet wrapped around me, and I couldn't get it off."

Ambrose made his debut for England against New Zealand in 2007-08 and began very successfully with 55 in his first Test at Hamilton followed by a maiden century in the next match at Wellington which helped England level the series. He played 10 consecutive Tests before being dropped after the 2008 series against South Africa and only played once more, against West Indies in Barbados when Matt Prior flew home for the birth of his child, although he scored an unbeaten 76.

"I've had issues from a long time back," he explaineds, "But it was an underlying thing that was easy to distract from. Since I was 15 years old my goal was to play international cricket. That's all I wanted to do. Whenever anything got tough I could always focus back on to that end goal. Once I'd reached that goal and walked away I lost all direction. I thought, 'Why am I going to play cricket every day?' 

"You don't want your team-mates to know you are struggling with something. But at the same time it gets to the point where you can't hide those things any longer."

During the 2010 season Ambrose approached a psychologist and he took time out of the game before briefly returning for a match against Nottinghamshire where he bagged a pair. "I thought that was it," he said. "My contract was up at the end of the season, and, if I'm honest, I didn't care."

However, Warwickshire offered him a one-year contract for the 2011 season and this year he has scored 623 first-class runs at 44.50 for the Championship-winning team.

"It is an ongoing process. I still have the odd little issue," he said. "But now I have the armoury of knowledge. When little things start to happen I can arrest them straight away."

Ambrose will help front a campaign by the Professional Cricketers' Association, called Mind Matters, to help educate players on depression and anxiety. It will also feature Marcus Trescothick and Michael Yardy.

"You're not a freak or a weirdo," Ambrose said. "Depression is more common than you'd ever know. Just because of what we do doesn't mean we don't need help. It can happen to anyone."

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