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Rafiq to leave Yorkshire

Yorkshire have announced off-spinner Azeem Rafiq will leave the club at the end of the season after failing to earn a new deal.

The Pakistan-born 23-year-old, who made his debut in 2008, had been touted to appear at the highest level after enjoying a breakthrough year in 2012, when he helped the White Rose clinch promotion back into LV= County Championship Division One.

He also captained the club in the Friends Life t20 that year, becoming the first player of Asian origin to take the role, and has made over 100 appearances for the county in all formats.

However, the former England Under-17s captain's progress has stalled in the last couple of seasons and he has found himself behind resurgent leg-spinner Adil Rashid in the pecking order this year.

He has now been deemed surplus to requirements at Headingley and is now hoping a move away will give him the chance to take the next step in his career.

Azeem Rafiq has been predominantly used in the NatWest T20 Blast this season, where he has taken 14 wickets in nine matches

“I am naturally sad to be leaving the club," he said. “I am hopeful that the chance to get more regular first team opportunities under my belt will help continue my development and is the best thing for my cricket at this stage of my career."

Rafiq has been mainly restricted to appearances in the NatWest T20 Blast this year, taking 14 wickets in nine matches, and Yorkshire's director of cricket Martyn Moxon admitted the time was right for the bowler to move on.

“It is always a difficult time when a player leaves the club, but Azeem has been unable to sustain a regular place in the first 11 over the past two seasons," he said.

“In order for him to progress his career it is felt the time is right for Azeem to look at new opportunities.

“I would like to thank him for his contribution to Yorkshire cricket and wish him well for the future.”

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