CRICKET fans around the globe will all have felt the pain of deep sadness in the pits of their stomachs on Sunday morning when they heard the news of the allegations against the Pakistan cricket team.
The game of cricket, once best known for its gentlemen against players attitude, was on the front pages of the tabloids for all the wrong reasons.
And if the guilt of the players allegedly involved in spot-fixing is eventually proved in the courts then cricket needs to come down hard and make sure those players never take to a field again.
If found guilty they should face life bans from every level of the game – and that includes coming to this country and playing as club professionals.
The slur on the game left by these allegations will take a long, long time to repair, especially in a time when crowds are currently at an all-time low for Test and county games.
It also takes the shine off the many thousands of cricketers plying their trade in the First Class game or those turning out in leagues around the country.
And three of those players made headlines for the right reasons on Sunday.
Ramsbottom captain Jonathan Fielding reached the magical 100 wicket mark for the season as his title chasers won at Rishton.
In doing so the left-arm spinner became the first man to hit the century since Church’s Tommy Lowe some 71 years ago.
Another Lancashire League stalwart was also breaking records as Steve Dearden set a new mark for the number of wickets in one season for Haslingden CC. That mark of 72 had stood since 1908 and is a major achievement for a man who has long been one of the most feared all-rounders in the competition.
And in the same game at Bentgate, a young player in his first season in the Lancashire League also put his name in the record books.
Ammer Mirza, who is just 19 yet starring for Church, surpassed Alec Holt’s 15-year-old club batting record. That is some way to mark a league debut after impressing in the Ribblesdale League for Blackburn Northern.
That record is also hot on the heels of his team-mate Sam Tucker setting a new mark for wicket-keeping victims at West End.
That quartet is what cricket is all about – and they managed to put the smile back on the faces of the fans.