Bruce French comes from a family of cricket fanatics, based on the Welbeck Colliery Cricket Club in Warsop. In 1968 his elder brother, Charlie, now a noted bat manufacture, made his debut for Notts Under 15s and progressed rapidly, as a wicket-keeper, to Notts Second Eleven. Bruce French followed suit, except that at the tender age of 16 in 1976, he made his first-class debut for Nottinghamshire and was engaged on the Trent Bridge playing staff.
At the time, with a modest batting line-up, the county had decided on the age-old trick of persuading one of the their batting fraternity to double as keeper. Harris was the one to take the gloves. French however was clearly so talented that he could hardly be ignored. After the initial matches of 1977, Harris went back to concentrate on his batting, whilst French became Notts' permanent stumper. The England authorities were not unaware of French's expertise. In 1978, he was chosen for England Under l9s. To move from there to keeping for England in Tests was going to prove difficult. England already had a problem on their hands trying to decide between Bob Taylor and Knott for the top job. French had to wait until these two retired in 1984. In the winter which followed French travelled with the England side to India, as no.2 to Downton. Downton kept in the Tests, due to his batting ability, but French did make his ODI debut at Chandigarh.
French made his Test debut in England in 1986, when he appeared both against New Zealand and India. Off with the England team in 1986-87, French now found himself as deputy to Richards. The latter's keeping came in for some sharp press criticism; French found himself again recalled for the One-day Internationals. French began the 1987 summer as England's man. He appeared set on a long run in Test cricket, then in the first month of 1988, he suffered a finger injury. Downton moved back into pole position. Further injuries in 1989 lost him any opportunity of grabbing the England job back, though he was still considered by many the best wicket-keeper in the country. He continued to serve Nottinghamshire until illness forced him to retire in 1995.
Bruce Nicholas French was born in Warsop on 13 August 1959. As was noted he could hardly avoid being a cricketer. After leaving Notts he only rarely played cricket, but he has been increasingly evolved in his other career of mountaineering and rock-climbing, being well-known among fellow enthusiasts of that pastime.