Hugely popular throughout the cricketing world, Barbados-born John Holder “has done more for race relations than Nelson Mandela,” writes his friend and biographer, Andrew Murtagh. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but not far off the truth.


After seven occasionally brilliant years as Hampshire’s opening bowler, the former London Underground worker’s career was brought to a close by a back injury. What better way to stay in touch than to become an umpire? A first-class umpire for 27 years, he officiated in 11 Tests and 19 one-day internationals.


The book follows on from Andy’s critically acclaimed Sundial in the Shade, whose subject was another former Hampshire teammate, Barry Richards.


Test of Character shines a light on the job of an international umpire, with all its pressures, vicissitudes, controversies and prejudices – leavened of course with a fair degree of humour:

  • John came to England from Barbados in the early 60s to work on the London Underground.
  • Hampshire signed him up as a fast bowler in 1968, for whom he played until 1972. Successes included taking 13-128 in one match against Gloucestershire in 1972 and a hat-trick against Kent in the same year.
  • Injury and loss of form hastened his retirement, after which he took up umpiring, remaining on the first-class panel for 27 years.
  • He officiated in 11 Test matches and 19 ODIs.
  • First black umpire to officiate in a Test match in England.
  • First ‘neutral’ umpire in a Test series, Pakistan v India.
  • Initiated the first bowl-out in a knock-out match to determine the winner in the event of inclement weather.


Click here for more information, or to read a sample from Test Of Character.