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Rafiq wins second chance at Yorkshire

Azeem Rafiq has been given a second chance at Yorkshire Getty Images

Azeem Rafiq has signed a new contract with Yorkshire after almost two years out of the professional game.

Rafiq, an off-spinning allrounder who became the first player of Asian origin to captain Yorkshire in 2012, was released in 2014 after failing to build on the potential that saw him captain England at age-group level and win a place on the ECB's performance programme in 2013.

He has continued to represent Barnsley in club cricket and recently returned to the Yorkshire second team. With the club losing several players to England duty in the coming weeks, notably their lead spinner Adil Rashid, Rafiq has signed for the club until the end of the season and is in the squad for the NatWest Blast match against Nottinghamshire in Leeds on Friday.

If he plays, it will be his first game for the first team since July 2014. He will be considered for all formats of the game.

Rafiq, born in Karachi and raised in Barnsley, played 25 first-class matches, 20 List A matches and 60 T20 games since making his debut in a T20 match at Trent Bridge as a 17-year-old in 2008. Through no fault of his own, he was deemed ineligible to play in the game due to passport and registration issues. Yorkshire had just taken him along for the ride but were shocked to find an old Trent Bridge pitch designed for spinners. They played Rafiq without reflecting on the paperwork and were subsequently thrown out of the competition.

He played a crucial role in the club's promotion season of 2012 and was integral in the final match against Essex, where he made a fifty in both innings and took 8 for 115 with the ball.

Yorkshire will hope that his period out of the professional game will have helped him mature. Aged 25, there is no reason why his best years should not be ahead of him.

Yorkshire have also recalled Josh Shaw from his loan spell at Gloucestershire with immediate effect. The seam bowler has taken 19 first-class wickets this season, including two four-wicket hauls.

"Azeem has played for the second team over the last couple of weeks and in light of his positive performances, we are delighted to offer him a new contract at Headingley," Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket, said. "Josh's loan spell at Gloucestershire has helped with his development this year and this is clear to see from the wickets that he has taken.

"With Liam Plunkett and David Willey being called up to the England ODI squad and with injuries to Ryan Sidebottom, Matthew Fisher and Jack Brooks, our seam bowling resources are stretched.

"Therefore we have requested that Josh returns from his loan spell with immediate effect. An option is in place for Josh to return to Gloucestershire at some stage during the season."