CRICKET: Azeem Rafiq signs up to lead Sheffield and Phoenix CC into new era

Azeem Rafiq in his Yorkshire days
Azeem Rafiq in his Yorkshire days
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Former Yorkshire skipper Azeem Rafiq will captain Sheffield and Phoenix United CC in the new Yorkshire Premier League South this season.

Rafiq, who captained Yorkshire to five wins from six Twenty20 games, will also head a new coaching academy which will be primarily based at the Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park complex, on Bawtry Road.

Danial Rafiq, brother of Azeem

Danial Rafiq, brother of Azeem

Rafiq, who played in the Yorkshire League for hometown club Barnsley before moving to Dubai to launch his coaching academy, will be joined at United by his brother, Danial.

“SPUCC are delighted to capture a player of such ability and hope he can help his new club be a competitive force in the new YPLS,” Richard Tong, co-chairman of the newly formed club following a merger of Sheffield United and Rotherham Phoenix, said.

“The academy will give young players in the area a wonderful opportunity to develop their skills and become stars of the future.

“It is planned to hold a number of master class sessions during the summer - hopefully including local stars Joe Root and Gary Ballance.”

Rafiq was earmarked as a future star for both Yorkshire and England and played for his country at U15,17 and 19 levels, appearing 25 times for Yorkshire .

He became the first player of Asian origin to captain his county, but his development slowed after a knee injury and in 2014, the county released him.

He is scheduled to return to the UK in March.

n United’s senior indoor nets begin on Monday, Febuary 1, between 6-8pm.