Barbados-born John Holder arrived in England during the 1960s as part of the second wave of West Indian immigrants recruited by London Transport after the war. While working on the Underground he was recommended for a trial at Hampshire. Impressed by his speed and hostility with the ball, they signed him on the spot. For seven years, his career as an opening bowler followed an uneven course, periods of loss of form and confidence punctuated with moments of sheer brilliance, the most noteworthy both coming in his final year at Hampshire in 1972, taking 13-128 in the same match against Gloucestershire and a hat-trick against Kent. A back injury brought his county career to a close. 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 23 one-day internationals. Former team-mate Andrew Murtagh had unique and unfettered access to his subject. A Test of Character throws an interesting 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 too.
It was when he was reading English at Southampton University that Andrew Murtagh joined Hampshire CCC. John Holder was a teammate of his and they built up a strong friendship that survives to this day. Andrew's previous books are A Remarkable Man, The Story of George Chesterton, short-listed for the MCC Cricket Society Book of the Year; Touched by Greatness, The Story of Tom Graveney, England's Much Loved Cricketer; and Sundial in the Shade, The Story of Barry Richards, The Genius Lost to Test Cricket.