Geoff Pullar made his debut for England in a home series against India in 1959 © Getty Images
Geoff Pullar made his debut for England in a home series against India in 1959 © Getty Images

Lancashire hero Geoffrey Pullar has passed away on December 26, 2014. Abhishek Mukherjee mourns the death of a belligerent strokeplayer with a reliable technique in an infallible temperament.

Geoffrey Pullar was your typical Lancashire batsman. A middle-order batsman, his excellent technique and temperament made the England selectors use him as an opener against India in 1959. He scored 131 in only his second Test, thus becoming the first Lancastrian to score a Test hundred at Old Trafford. Selected for the tour of West Indies that winter, Pullar played all five Tests, reached double figures in all ten innings, scored three fifties, but never reached 70.

He was an excellent puller (almost a pun, there) of the ball, but was more proficient off the front foot. With an imposing bulk (6 feet, 13 stone), he was a joy to watch — to the extent that Wisden compared him with Charlie Hallows and Eddie Paynter — two other great Lancastrian southpaws.

Pullar did an excellent job as an opener — to the extent that he batted at the top in 48 of his 49 innings; in the other innings, against South Africa at Edgbaston in 1960, he had a fractured wrist bone off a Neil Adcock bouncer and batted at No. 11. He came back strongly later that series, amassing 59 and 175 at The Oval. In the second innings he and Colin Cowdrey put up 290 runs for the opening stand. The innings remained his First-Class best. Surprisingly, he was never selected after 1963.

Pullar finished with 1,974 Test runs at 43.86 from 28 Tests. He played exactly 400 First-Class matches, mostly for Lancashire (but for Gloucestershire towards the end of his career), scoring 21,528 runs at 35.34 with 41 hundreds. He won the Lancashire cap in 1958, and reserved his best for the following season.

He scored 2,647 runs at 55.14 with eight hundreds (including 76, 105, and 109 in his three Roses innings) in 1959. He also scored 22 fifties that season, equalling Paynter’s Lancashire record. As a result he was named the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Cricketer of the Year as well as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

Pullar loved sleeping, and had developed a habit of sleeping in the dressing-room — a habit that earned him the nickname Noddy. It did not affect his batting; he was also into “fast motoring” and won an England junior cap (and a place in international trials) in table-tennis.

 (Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)