THE captain of Shaw Cricket Club has condemned a brutal attack on two overseas players during a night out in Oldham which left one unconscious and the other needing surgery.

Promising amateur Justin Watson, aged 20, and professional Marques Ackerman, aged 22, both from South Africa, were subjected to an horrific ordeal by a gang of thugs on Yorkshire Street after they left Liquid and Envy nightclub in the early hours on Friday (July 27).

Captain and acting chairman of the Mark Lane club, Steve Whiston, told The Oldham Times the pair were on their way home when they were "jumped" by seven men and badly beaten.

Justin - who had been hoping to play professionally in England and was on trial at Lancashire with two more trials due at Durham and Northamptonshire - was punched repeatedly in the face and head by three of the gang leaving him with two fractures to his jaw which was also dislocated.

He's been transferred from Royal Oldham Hospital to a specialist facial unit at North Manchester General where he is due to have surgery to have a plate inserted in his jaw as well as have it repositioned and potentially have teeth removed.

Steve said Marques was hit from behind and was knocked unconscious as he hit the ground. He is now out of hospital but has suffered severe concussion.

Justin, an all-rounder who plays for a team in Johannesburg, has now been ruled out for the rest of the season and his injuries could have a serious impact on his future prospects, said Steve.

Marques, also an all-rounder who plays for KwaZulu Natal Dolphins and formerly captained South Africa's Under 19s side, is now recovering and considering his future.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said following the incident a 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of section 47 assault and has been released under investigation.

Steve said the attack has devastated and appalled the club.

"The lads have loved being here and have had a great experience during their time here,” he said.

"Unfortunately that's been destroyed by some absolute idiots.

"Justin was here to hopefully be signed by a county and earn a deal and to gain life experience playing in another country and gain new skills. He's a very good, promising player and has done well for us. Now this has happened.

"His season is over and he's going to miss out on his trials. He's sad and very disappointed.

"Marques is very upset. He's been to the UK twice before with the under 19s and when he was 16 and he's never experienced anything like this before.

"Both lads have had such a big impact on the club, coaching and helping people. They've been fantastic. This couldn't have happened to nicer lads and it's left everyone shocked and disappointed."

The pairs' absence is already have a huge impact on the club which was left without a professional for their game against Werneth on Saturday and has seen then embroiled in a dispute with the Greater Manchester Cricket League.

Steve said league rules state a deputy pro has to be registered on the Thursday before a Saturday match but because the players were attacked on Friday the club was obviously unable to do that.

The GMCL refused to make allowances until the eleventh hour on Saturday morning - due, he says, to an outcry on Twitter - which was too late for anything to be put in place.

The club lost by six wickets and dropped from second to third place in the league.

They now face a desperate race against time to find a sub pro for their game against Prestwich this Saturday but he said it's proving "tough" to find anyone at this late stage.

With just seven matches left until the end of the season and only the top two being promoted, he said it’s going to be a battle to achieve a promotion place.

"To say I'm aggrieved by the lack of support of the Greater Manchester Cricket League is an understatement,” he continued.

"We've lost two of our best players due to these sudden circumstances yet the league wouldn't allow us a replacement professional.

"We've lost one player for the rest of the season and we're having to try source a professional for this weekend's game which basically means ringing the world and his wife to find a team which hasn't got a game on this weekend to loan us one.

"The players are all in a pretty down place after what's gone on. People are upset this has happened to their mates."

Superintendent Daniel Inglis from GMP’s Oldham Division said: “Since implementing a new approach to shift patterns in March we have actually seen a downward trend in terms of assaults in the town centre.

“The shift pattern has fewer teams, leading to more officers per team. This means we have more staff working afternoon and night shifts at the weekend.

“We do recognise that any incident of violent crime is one too many and we are working hard alongside our partners to ensure concerns from residents and businesses are addressed.

“Patrols in the town centre are increased on weekends and we regularly meet with business owners and local people to gauge their views on policing in Oldham.

“The town has some great attractions and a thriving night time economy, and we are committed to supporting local businesses and partners to ensure visitors can enjoy everything Oldham has to offer in the safest possible environment.”