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Vaughan's words light fire in Rafiq

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Azeem Rafiq has spoken of how former England captain Michael Vaughan inspired him to great deeds, as he prepares to lead England Under-19s in their World Cup campaign.

New Road, Worcester, was the setting for the final first-class match of Vaughan’s career in June, but it was a landmark of a very different kind for Rafiq, who struck a maiden century to help Yorkshire salvage a draw.

Vaughan’s words of encouragement struck a chord with the 18-year-old all-rounder, who says he has gained a lot from senior voices such as Darren Gough and Matthew Hoggard at Headingley Carnegie.

“Michael Vaughan was in the dressing room at Worcester when we were struggling a bit,” Rafiq told ECBtv. “He came round and asked me how many runs I had in me. I told him I reckoned I had about 40.

“It rubbed off on me, and I went out and made a hundred. I had another good chat with him afterwards and I can’t speak highly enough of it.”

Rafiq, re-appointed captain after relinquishing the post to Paul Best midway through England’s tough tour of Bangladesh before Christmas, also spoke of the importance of under-19 cricket to him personally.

He believes that strong performances from his squad will set tongues wagging in the wider cricket world.

“I don’t think a lot of people realise how much under-19 cricket makes a difference,” he said. “Some people say, ‘it’s only under-19s, I’d rather play for my county’.

Michael Vaughan & Yorkshire

Michael Vaughan's career only slightly overlapped that of Azeem Rafiq, second right, but the former England captain still had an effect on the man who holds the under-19 post

“But I can’t speak highly enough about what under-19s cricket has done for me.

“And if you perform at World Cup level, it doesn’t get any bigger than that. With all the global press there, if you make runs or win matches, you’ll get noticed.

“We’ve got a lot of talent in this group, but we need to gel as a team if we’re going to win this tournament.”

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