Errol Holmes in 1947
|Batting style||Right-hand bat|
|Bowling style||Right-arm medium fast|
A dashing right-handed batsman, Holmes believed that cricket was to be enjoyed and was an important figure in restoring the reputation of English cricket after the Bodyline controversy of the early 1930s. He succeeded the Bodyline captain Douglas Jardine as captain of Surrey in 1934 and resolutely refused to use short-pitched bowling in county matches. He also captained the unofficial "goodwill" MCC tour to Australia and New Zealand in 1935–36.
Holmes came to prominence as a hard-hitting batsman for Oxford University from 1925 to 1927 and played a few matches for Surrey in those seasons. He also bowled fast-medium, though it was reported that his run-up tended to be rather more fearsome than the bowling that resulted from it.
After Oxford, Holmes left first-class cricket for six seasons to pursue a business career before being called back to captain Surrey from 1934. He was an instant success, making 1,000 runs in each of the next four seasons and being appointed vice-captain on the MCC tour of the West Indies where he played four Test matches. He also played one Test at Lord's in the 1935 series against South Africa, but business commitments led him to pull out of the 1936–37 tour to Australia under Gubby Allen, and he retired from the Surrey captaincy to resume his business career in 1938.
During World War II, he was an officer in the Royal Artillery, achieving the rank of Major. He was described as a "flak expert". He flew as British flak liaison officer with the first American bomber mission against the German naval base at Wilhelmshaven. When the waist gunner of his aircraft was injured, Holmes took his place, but did not have any opportunity to fire the weapon. He was awarded the US DFC in 1948 for his services during the war, having been the flak liaison officer with the 1st Bomb Wing/Division during all their operations over Europe.
After the war, Holmes was persuaded back to Surrey as captain for two further seasons from 1947, and as late as 1955, at the age of 49, he came back to captain Surrey in one match against Oxford University, batting at number nine and scoring 49 runs. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1936. In retirement, he sat on MCC and Surrey committees.
He published his autobiography, Flannelled Foolishness: A Cricketing Chronicle, in 1957. He died in hospital after a heart attack. Sir Jack Hobbs, who played alongside him and served with him on the Surrey committee, wrote that Holmes "was a true sportsman and a lovable fellow", "a fine attacking batsman" who "set a fine personal example in the field" and "would not tolerate anything shady or underhanded".
- "Britain at War: Two Big Day Raids on Nazi Sea Bases", Daily Telegraph, page 24, 28 January 2013 (reprint of article first published on 28 January 1943).
- Save The Brampton Grange Retrieved 28 January 2013.
- Wisden 1958, pp. 1015–16.
- Wisden 1961, p. 947.
- Wisden 1961, p. 948.