Peter Peter, World Beater? Cult hero eyes next step
Spinner Peter Hatzoglou to enter the IPL auction as the world takes notice of the biggest breakout star of BBL|10
22 January 2021, 11:30 AM AEST
The Melbourne Renegades may have a fight on their hands to keep fan favourite Peter Hatzoglou on their list for next season as rival clubs circle the up-and-coming leg-spinner.
And his meteoric rise could soon continue abroad, with the 22-year-old set to enter his name into the lucrative Indian Premier League auction having already been approached about playing in the upcoming T10 League in Abu Dhabi.
Hatzoglou's journey from third XI cricket to the Big Bash in just two years has been one of the best stories of BBL|10 so far and been a rare bright spot for the Renegades in another disappointing season.
Having signed as a replacement player just a week before the tournament began, the pacey wrist-spinner has taken 15 wickets from 11 games, putting him equal seventh on the BBL's wicket-taking list, and he looks set to finish the season as his club's leading strike bowler.
The big-money T10 league in the UAE starts next week and while travel and quarantine restrictions may scupper plans for Hatzoglou to play, he confirmed there have been discussions about him joining a tournament that has signed the likes of Andre Russell, Chris Gayle and Mohammad Amir.
And while he was tight-lipped about negotiations for a new BBL deal for next season, his performances this summer have made him a wanted man.
"There's a few things coming my way from a couple of clubs, but I'm focused in on just playing well in these last two matches and the rest will take care of itself," Hatzoglou tells cricket.com.au.
"I'm putting myself in the IPL draft and there's been a bit of interest from overseas from other clubs as well.
"But I'm not looking too far ahead. If I can finish this season well ... all that sort of stuff will come when it comes.
"It's pretty amazing, I'm overwhelmed by it all. Considering where I've come from, I'm just happy to be amongst it. It's incredible to have interest from other people."
Hatzoglou's old life as a data analyst and his new one as a professional cricketer converged this week when he fired up his laptop on Monday morning to return to work – albeit remotely from the bio-secure BBL hub – for his Melbourne investment firm, just 12 hours after he picked up the wicket of Marcus Stoinis in the Melbourne derby at the MCG.
On Thursday, the morning after he'd taken another two wickets in the derby re-match at Marvel Stadium, Hatzoglou was back to work, stopping to grant cricket.com.au an interview during his lunch break.
A unique leg-spinner who pushes the speed gun well past the 100kph mark, Hatzoglou concedes the element of surprise has worked in his favour in his first taste of professional cricket this season.
But he's nonetheless managed to unsettle and dismiss some of the best T20 players in the world thanks to clever changes of pace, variations on the crease and an enthusiasm and energy that has quickly earned him a cult following, but hasn't always been well received by his opponents.
Which has at times left him in an awkward spot and provided a reminder of how swiftly he's moved from simply being a lover of the game to competing against some of his idols.
"With (Usman) Khawaja, I bowled to him, he hit a single, and as he jogged down to my end I said, almost under my breath, 'I can't believe I’m bowling to you'," he recalls.
"And (on Wednesday) with Stoinis as well – I get into it, I don't sledge or anything, but I follow through and I get into it. And he was just like, 'mate, get lost'.
"For him to say that to me, I was like, 'I don’t want you to dislike me!'.
"Stoinis is my idol in many ways so get him out was great. He's a big, good looking Greek boy and I'm a Greek boy as well. Our dads were friends as well, so he's always been someone I looked up to.
"I almost don't want to get him out though, I almost wanted to just give him a single and get the other bloke out! I'm a big fan."
As affable as he is enthusiastic for his craft, Hatzoglou has both genuine belief in his ability but is also self-effacing when asked to analyse his game.
He notes how batters have changed their approach to him as the tournament has progressed and his surprise factor has lessened, but it hasn't dimmed his enthusiasm for bowling the most difficult overs in an innings.
The leggie has bowled six overs in the Power Surge this season, more than any other spinner, and taken five wickets in that time to give skipper Aaron Finch a much-needed option in a bowling line-up that has been hit hard by injury during the season.
"I think the first thing I said when I met Finchy was, 'I bowl Power Play overs so I'm happy to bowl in the Surge'," Hatzoglou says.
"He was probably like, 'Who's this bloody replacement player telling me when he wants to bowl?'. But because I'm pretty unique, I think I can do it.
"One thing that a lot of batters are doing to me now is ... taking guard outside leg. I'm not sure if that’s the best adjustment to be making, leaving your stumps wide open when I want to be hitting the stumps.
"I feel like I get a lot of natural variation. And I don't know what the ball's going to do most of the time, so I don't know how the batters are going to figure it out."