New deal sees Azeem Rafiq stick with Yorkshire CCC

Azeem Rafiq, second left, shows his delight at agreeing a new deal with Yorkshire. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Azeem Rafiq, second left, shows his delight at agreeing a new deal with Yorkshire. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

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YORKSHIRE off-spinner Azeem Rafiq has signed a one-year contract extension.

Rafiq rejoined the club in June after two years out of the professional game.

Azeem Rafiq hits out as Yorkshire rebuild their innings against Nottinghamshire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Azeem Rafiq hits out as Yorkshire rebuild their innings against Nottinghamshire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The 25-year-old said: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since June, but I’ve enjoyed every second.

“To be part of a successful team and to play a little part in that is great and, in the longer term, of course, a new contract is what I’ve been working hard for.

“Back in June, it was about grasping a second opportunity and playing every day like it was my last.

“I just wanted to soak up as much as I could from what is a great environment, and my aims were to enjoy it more than the last time and to contribute in any way I could to some success.”

Rafiq’s extension follows a new one-year deal for pace bowler Ryan Sidebottom.

Sidebottom, 38, will complete 20 years in the professional game next summer, and he has long-term aspirations of becoming a bowling coach.

Looking ahead to today’s County Championship game against Middlesex at Lord’s, where Yorkshire are bidding to win a hat-trick of titles, Rafiq said: “This is my first time as a player at Lord’s, and to go there and win the County Championship would be very special indeed.

“Having practiced there yesterday, it’s an incredible place, and winning there and lifting the trophy would be something to look back on at the end of my career.

“To win the Championship for a second time for myself., and a third time for the club; I think it would be one of the biggest wins in the club’s history.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but we are in a very simple position - we have to win.

“It’s also an exciting position to be in.

“The opportunity to win and be crowned champions for a third year in a row would be incredible.”

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