Such praise for Rafiq
On the back of a fine season for Yorkshire, Azeem Rafiq has been tipped by former England spinner Peter Such to become a genuine all-rounder.
The 21-year-old hit 265 runs at an average of 29.44 and took 26 wickets at 24.34 with his off-breaks as the White Rose were promoted in the LV= County Championship.
He also performed admirably in the Friends Life t20, leading Yorkshire in six games as they won the North Group. With Andrew Gale back in charge, they reached the final only to lose by 10 runs to Hampshire.
Rafiq, who last month represented his county in the Champions League T20, impressed ECB National Lead Spin Bowling Coach Such on FLt20 finals day when his combined eight overs yielded 3-43 and in Yorkshire’s last championship game when he made two fifties and claimed eight wickets.
“I think he handles pressure well. He’s a very competitive cricketer,” Such told ecb.co.uk.
“You saw the way that he bowled in the t20 on the finals day. I thought he was exceptional there and also sort of won a key game for them at the end of the season against Essex to help gain promotion. So he’s done a lot of good stuff for Yorkshire this year.”
As part of this winter’s England Performance Programme, Such is working with Rafiq at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough for two weeks.
The squad will the fly to India on Monday week and undertake an extensive training programme at Mumbai and Pune, playing three matches in the process.
Such was encouraged by Rafiq’s first-class wicket haul this year and hopes the right-hander’s batting comes on too.
“That’s very, very good, particularly given last season in terms of the fact it was a very damp summer, particularly first half of the year, so it was a difficult environment for young spinners to prosper and he came through,” he said.
“He’s a talented lower-middle-order batsman and, if he can continue to develop along those lines, he’ll be a very valuable cricketer.”