AOC talks to World Cup winner Fran Wilson about what keeps her up at night, being a cricket badger, and the surprising factor in England’s World Cup success.
The obvious place to start is with the World Cup win. Talk us through that winning moment!
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It feels like ages ago now! I felt like I knew we were going to win, even when Jenny Gunn dropped that catch. I knew we were going to do it just because we were on a roll and the way Anya was bowling. It was just the most unbelievable feeling, and something I doubt any of us will ever experience again, a home World Cup in front of 20,000 people, and in such a close game as well. It was just an unbelievable feeling to be a part of.
It was a successful tournament from a personal point of view too, with you getting your maiden international fifty against India in the first game, that must have been satisfying?
It was great to get an opportunity to get out there and just bat for a decent amount of time. When you’ve got such strong players ahead of you, batting in the middle order for England sometimes you don’t get the opportunities. But it was really good to be able to get out there first game and get any pre-tournament nerves out of the way. It was disappointing not to win the game, for the week after I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘If I’d finished not out, got my first hundred, won the game, how amazing would that have been?’ But I’m not sure we’d have gone on to win the tournament had that have happened. Obviously you can never say, but it was almost a good thing. We needed to be challenged, we needed to be put under pressure, and I think that loss actually put us on the way to winning the tournament in the end.
Interesting, so it was a bit of a wake-up call for you?
Definitely. I think in the run up to the tournament we’d had a lot of warm-up games, and none of the teams had really turned up. We were walking over everyone. It was good to have that challenge, because that’s the only way you get better and you learn about your blind spots etc, so it was a good thing in the end.
Was that a knock you needed to show yourself and everyone else you could do it at that level?
I guess so. I’d had a few innings before for England where I’d batted ok but not had that breakthrough innings to show people how I can play. So it was nice, a bit of a relief to get some runs under my belt. Now it’s about building on that and being able to do it on a consistent basis.
With the Kia Super League following shortly after, do you think there’s been a greater interest in it because of the World Cup and being on TV?
You’re always in a bit of a bubble when you’re on tours and in competitions, but I personally know that a lot of my friends who never really liked cricket before have been really interested and asking how it’s going and asking for tickets. I think women’s cricket has reached a wider audience this summer, not just among cricket fans but among people who are looking to get into the sport and interested in women’s sport in general. Hopefully it will just keep growing year on year.
There’s an Ashes series coming up this winter, how do you go about preparing for the conditions you’ll face out there?
Something we’ve got better at as a team is preparing quite specifically. So last year before Jamaica we knew we’d come across slow pitches and big outfields, so in warm-up games we’d ask for that. We will try and be as specific as possible, but obviously in England you can’t really replicate the heat of Australia, or the fast-paced wickets. So we’ll do the best we can in England, but we’ll do some more specific prep when we get out there, I think we’ll have a few weeks to acclimatise.
Is it something you’ll talk to your England teammates a lot about?
A strength of the England team is we are pretty good at chatting to each other and learning about the different environments that you play in. A lot more cricket chat goes on, so we’ve all turned into cricket badgers. You do use the experience of the other girls, especially the ones who have been in the Big Bash and know the specific girls that you’ll be playing against. You do use their knowledge, and it’s important that you do that, and really important as a team that we can have those conversations and learn from each other.
Did the World Cup give you more belief that Australia are beatable?
I think we’ve come on a lot over the last year with a relatively new, inexperienced team. We’ve gone through a phase of people who have know established themselves on the international stage, and we are at a place now as a team where we could really go on and dominate. We’ve got some players at the top of their games that are really world class, so there’s a lot of belief in the squad that we can go out there and continue our form from the World Cup and beat the Aussies.
Meg Lanning will miss the entirety of the Ashes through injury. What’s the reaction to that as a player?
It’s a bit mixed feelings really. I’m not just saying this because it’s a cliché, it’s actually a genuine feeling that you want to go out and play against the best team that you can, because you want to prove that you are better than them. Injuries happen, we’ve had them in the past and we’ll have them in the future, but it’s disappointing from a player’s perspective and from a fan’s perspective. Meg’s a brilliant player, probably one of the best players women’s cricket has ever produced, so let’s hope she gets better soon.