Fran Wilson is cricketer for England, Western Storm & Middlesex. She grew up playing cricket in the West Country and also coaches Gloucestershire CCC’s girls in Bristol in the winter.

Visit Bristol’s Angharad Paull was lucky enough to chat to Fran about the upcoming ICC Women’s World Cup (of which Bristol will host 8 matches at The Brightside Ground -home of Gloucestershire CCC - including the semi-final on 18 July), her career, women’s cricket in general and her favourite Bristol hang-outs.

Fran Wilson

Image - Fran Wilson, credit @fwilson07

It’s set to be an amazing summer for women’s cricket, you must be excited?

Yeah, we’re excited. We’re pretty lucky to be involved in a home world cup, not many people get that opportunity. It’s really exciting as a lot of the games are taking place in the West Country where I grew up playing, I do a lot of coaching there now as well and I play for Western Storm too, so it’ll be really good to be playing where I’m from in a home world cup.

Yes and we’re excited to have it coming to Bristol! How did you first get into playing cricket?

My family’s quite sporty so we would all play sport in the garden. I also had some next door neighbours and we used to play cricket in the close - we used to play all day in the holidays, we’d get like 10 runs if we hit a roof or if the ball went in a certain place you’d get out...I then moved on to Bath Cricket Club, then went up to Somerset and now I’m at Middlesex. That's how I got into it - playing sports when I was younger and just really enjoying it.

What is your proudest cricketing moment?

I got in the England team when I was 18, so I was quite young and I didn’t really do very well so I got dropped, then last summer I got picked for the first time in 5 years and in my first match I got made Man of the Match. That was quite a proud moment ‘cause I had quite a lot of pressure on me, not playing for 5 years, not having a great time 1st time round, overcoming that, it was a really proud moment for me.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

My parents are my role models and inspiration. I always used to play with my dad and he would play cricket with me endlessly in the garden. I look up to my mum a lot, because she’s my role model and I’d like to be like my mum. They drove me around loads of places when I was little, very selflessly.

If you could be another cricketer for a day, who would you be?

I’d like to be Chris Gayle for a game, because he’s so big and he can just hit the ball for 6 without even trying so I’d like to see how easy it is for someone as big as that to be able to hit a 6.

Trophy Tour ss great britain

Image - former cricket captain, Charlotte Edwards & Suzie Bates in front of Brunel's SS Great Britain, Bristol. Credit ICC Nissan Trophy Tour. 

You’re seen as a role model by your ‘Fran-Club’, what would you say to young girls keen to get into cricket today?

Go along and give it a go, and give it a chance as well. I believe you need to give something a chance and get good at it before you can become passionate about it. So the first session might not be the best day of your life, but if you keep working at it and keep going, it might turn into something that you’re really good at. And I’d also like to say to young girls - and young boys as well - try all sports, have a go at everything, I think they all kind of cross over and if you’re good at one thing, then it’ll be a good skill for another sport. Just generally being active and taking part in sports is something that’s really important in my opinion.

Do you have a motto that you live by?

(laughs) hmmm, It’s probably quite cringe…so when I play or train or just in general life, how would I want to be remembered by people – like by my team mates, people I coach, my friends and family, I think it’s quite important the impression you leave on people, I guess that’s something I’d like to live by, being remembered well.

Do you play any other sports?

I did yes, so when I had a bit of a break from cricket after I got dropped from England, I went to University and played football. I wasn’t even planning on playing football, I just went along just to keep my friend company and it turned into something that I really loved. I played football for 4 years at Uni in the first team and it was like a performance programme, it was really good for me just because it kind of filled the void of cricket. I was training with the team, I had friends, I had something to really aim for. I always played sports when I was younger, a lot of school sports like netball and hockey, but football and cricket would be the main ones.

You play in Somerset with Western Storm…

Yes that’s my super league team.

Was it the club that attracted you? Or the South West in general?

Well I had to move away from the South West with my county cricket - I moved to Middlesex so I could play division one and I think when Western Storm came up and the Kia Super League came about, to be able to go back to my roots, where I had started playing cricket, a lot of the grounds and a lot of the places I’d trained at when I was younger, it was so nice to go back there. I know a lot of people in the area, so it’s amazing to be able to go back and play where I grew up playing. I did miss it.

Did you train in Bristol at all when you were younger?

I didn’t, it was mainly Bath, Bath Cricket Club and in Somerset. But in the winter I coach every weekend in Gloucester Cricket Club in Bristol, they’ve got a really good girls set up there, they’ve put so much into their girls section and I think in the next few years we’ll really see the improvement. I’d put my money on GCCC in the next 5 years becoming a top county in the country just because of how good their set up is at the moment.

I go to Bristol every weekend and I’m hoping to buy a house there… by the end of the year… it’s where I see my future, especially with Western Storm, it gives me a good training base. I’m in Loughborough at the moment.

Gloucestershire Country Cricket Club

Image - Gloucestershire Country Cricket Club, The Brightside Ground, Bristol. Credit ICC Nissan Trophy Tour.

You could get one of those flats around the cricket pitch...

Yeah, I know, one of my friend’s lives there actually and when we played there last year, she was like ‘oh Fran I’ll come out and watch you on our balcony!’ Quite cool.

Do you have a list of things you’d like to do when you come to the city, places you’d like to go or eat..?

I like just walking round, all the buildings are really pretty and I like finding good coffee places and catching up with people. I’ve got a lot of friends in the area ‘cause I went to University in Bath and a lot of people went to Bristol and my brother lives there as well.

Do you have a favourite coffee place or coffee spot?

I don’t know them off by heart, I went to a good place the other day but I can’t remember it, sorry! I went to the pub next to the Clifton Suspension Bridge, I can’t remember what it’s called…

That’s the White Lion Bar at The Avon Gorge Hotel...

The views are so pretty and it’s weird cause I’d never been there before. I took Danni Wyatt, who’s my team mate for England and we went and had dinner there and it was a really good day, so sunny as well.

Yeah that’s a great sun trap.

Yeah, a good spot!

White Lion Bar Avon Gorge Hotel

Image - interview with Suzie Bates at The White Lion Bar, Avon Gorge Hotel in front of Clifton Suspension Bridge. Credit ICC Nissan Trophy Tour.

What are you most looking forward to in the world cup?

I think the opportunity to play big games every week against the best teams in the world, it’s something I haven’t had the opportunity to do yet. Obviously last year we had Pakistan come over and although it was a test, they’re not the best team in the world, so for me it’s really exciting to be able to see myself playing against some of the best players in the world and showing them what we can do as well. And also, the prospect of potentially winning or getting to the final, playing at Lord’s – I think they want to sell out at Lord’s - which would be an amazing experience. Being able to pitch yourself up against some of the best players in the world and see where you are really.

What’s the best thing about playing for England?

I feel very lucky, ‘cause my team are just like my friends really and we get to travel to some really cool places, just get to travel round the world with your friends and everyday you’re just hanging out with your friends playing a sport which is…I feel very lucky to be able to do. I also – this is a bit leftfield – but I really enjoy training and learning in training and being able to take it into my coaching and be able to take it back to the girls at Gloucestershire, so I pretty much do the same sessions with the under 13s at Gloucestershire as we do at England, which is nice. To be able to apply the knowledge that you learn in your own game and be able to pass it onto younger girls as well, so that’s something I really like about my job as well.

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

Image - Fans at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club

What do you think is the future of Women’s cricket?

I could see women’s franchise leagues becoming a lot bigger, obviously we have our Kia Super League and I can see that expanding. Obviously the mens’ one’s coming in as well and whether that expands alongside I don’t know…but definitely around the world I hope other franchise leagues will come into play, maybe an Indian Premier League…I’m trying to think what else, but 1. would definitely be the franchise leagues and 2. In the past we’ve had maybe 3 or 4 really good teams and then quite a big gap between the rest, but I can see the top 5 or 6 teams in the world becoming…like anyone could beat anyone on their day and I think that’s exciting for players as well as spectators as an entertainment so hopefully there’ll be more money in the sport and it’ll become more of a spectacle.

Who do you think is going to win the women’s cricket world cup?

(laughs)...hmm this is a tricky one, obviously I think we can win it, but I’d say going into it, New Zealand are probably favourites. I think they’ve got the most experience in their team, but I think the way that England, us, are playing our cricket and the environment we have, we’ve got a really really strong team unit, so we might not be as experienced as other teams, but I think we’re very organised and a very tight team, it’ll take us a long way. So I think New Zealand will be favourites but we’ve definitely got a really really good chance of winning the world cup at Lord’s on the 23rd of July!

Well, we wish you the best of luck with all the games and thanks so much for your time today, it’s been really nice chatting to you.

Follow England’s matches and buy tickets to the games:

New Zealand v Sri Lanka - 24 June, Bristol

Sri Lanka v Australia - 29 June, Bristol

Australia v New Zealand - 2 July, Bristol

England v South Africa - 5 July

England v Australia - 9 July, Bristol

England v West Indies Women - 15 July

Semi final 18 July

See the VisitBristol website event listings for details of the other matches…

Find out more about cricket in Bristol.

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