Bruce French – A life full of unfortunate incidents

Bruce French – A life full of unfortunate incidents

French was on the receiving end of many unusual accidents throughout his life.

Bruce French
Bruce French of England. (Photo by David Munden/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Bruce French made it to England’s national team solely due to his wicket-keeping skills and the team wanted to use it even after his retirement. Thus he returned as the coach of the team. The Nottinghamshire player had a brother named Neil French who featured in three List A match for Lincolnshire. Their nephew, Jake Ball is also a cricketer, who has represented England in all the three formats thus far.

The current England pacer is the son of Bruce and Neil’s sister. Interestingly, Jake received his Test cap from his uncle Bruce. The former England keeper who featured in 16 Test matches and 13 ODIs, was well famous for his misfortune. French was on the receiving end of many unusual accidents throughout his life.


During England’s 1987/88 tour of Pakistan, the wicketkeeper was part of a net session on one fine day. While French was busy observing his teammates practice, a helpful spectator from the crowd tried to return the ball. The person threw that ball straight at French and it hit him on the head as he was unaware of the throw. He was soon taken to the hospital and was struck by a car outside the main entrance.

Finally, he got stitches near his eyebrows and the diagnosis revealed nothing serious. French’s height was a boon for him while standing behind the stumps but didn’t quite work in his favour that day. That was not the end of the story as he was hit on the head by a low-hanging light fitting while he was trying to get up from a chair in the doctor’s room.

Four wicketkeepers in a Test match:

Earlier in 1986, Bruce French got hit on the head but this time during a Test match. A bouncer from Richard Hadlee at Lord’s had French on to the ground and he ended up in the hospital. The designated England keeper was injured on the second day morning and their No.3 batsman Bill Athey had to don the keeping gloves.

Bruce French being wheeled
England wicket-keeper Bruce French being wheeled off the pitch when he collapsed after being hit on the head by a ball. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The retired International Bob Taylor present at the venue was roped in as replacement keeper later that day. Bobby Parks also kept for a couple of sessions on the 3rd day before French returned from the hospital to keep wickets on the last two days of the game. The Test match was the first and only till date where a team fielded four different wicketkeepers.

Injured even when warming the bench:

Bruce French made his ODI debut in January 1985 but had to wait till 1986 home season to make his Test debut. French was the reserve keeper of the English team that toured West Indies in 1985/86 for a 5-match Test series and a 4-match ODI series. Paul Downton featured in all the International fixtures as French remained on the bench. However, one fine morning while jogging during that tour,  he was bitten by a dog.

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