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Hatz off to you, Peter: A leg spinner’s rise to the top

17 January 2022

Peter Hatzoglou celebrating a wicket // Getty Images

From playing club cricket in Melbourne, to becoming a Melbourne Renegades injury replacement player and now suiting up for the Perth Scorchers, Peter Hatzoglou’s journey to Big Bash cult hero status has been a little unconventional.

Life comes at you fast. Just three seasons ago, Perth Scorchers leg spinning sensation Peter Hatzoglou was plying his trade in the depths of Melbourne club cricket. Fast-forward to today and Hatzoglou is playing a crucial role in the quest for a Big Bash League title for the Scorchers.

“ It’s been brilliant so far, the boys have made me feel welcome and a part of the squad which has been nice, he said.

“We have a very mature side with a lot of guys that understand their game really well and for me, coming in as a young player, to have guys that you can bounce ideas off has been fantastic for my development.
“ Winning games of cricket always makes it easier as well!”

Hatzoglou, who is in his first season with the Scorchers, has been a revelation this summer, taking nine wickets in his 10 matches as part of a dynamic bowling attack that has led the side to the top of the BBL|11 ladder.

“We have such great variety in our bowling attack, we have Jason Behrendorff who bowls left arm and swings it, we have AJ Tye who has his slower balls, Matt Kelly is a right armer who swings it away from the right hander and has a brilliant Yorker and then myself and Ashton Agar offer different skillsets as the spinners, so its nice to have plenty of options.”

Hatzoglou has thrived under the pressure of the BBL environment since he debuted in 2020, making an instant impact for both the Renegades and the Scorchers. Playing 13 out of a possible 14 matches for the Renegades in BBL|10, he was their leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps, earning him the BBL Rookie of the Year Award.

“It’s always going to be difficult I guess stepping up from club cricket to the Big Bash, but I think it’s a challenge I have embraced,” he said.

“I look at it differently, I never played any state underage cricket, so I felt I have a lot of untapped potential which I am trying to fulfill.

“I think joining the Scorchers has fast tracked my improvement, I think being around guys like Ashton Agar, Ashton Turner, Adam Voges and Beau Casson, has helped my development.”

Hatzoglou has a unique bowling style, with his all-action approach to the crease and his fast leg spinners proving to be difficult to handle for batsman around the competition. Hatzoglou has quickly developed “ cult hero” status with fans around the BBL, with his energetic style of play becoming very popular with supporters.

“I’m just relatable I guess, I mean coming from a background of club cricket and that’s all I played for a while so I think people see some similarities with me in that regard, I love the support and I am very grateful but I’m just doing my best whenever I’m on the field.”

The Scorchers have been a dominant force in the BBL over the competitions history, winning three titles and being runner-up on three other occasions.

Hatzoglou has quickly realised the reason for the Scorchers sustained success over a long period of time.

“I think it’s just the love the WA boys have for playing in the orange, and if you look at the team, most of the Scorchers team have played some form of international cricket over their career, which is huge,” he said.

The Scorchers have faced many obstacles over the course of the tournament, with the loss of key players in Jhye Richardson, Josh Inglis and Mitchell Marsh to international duty and being on the road for the duration of the season. Despite these challenges, they remain the dominant team in the competition.

Hatzoglou said that the close bond between the players and coaching staff has enabled team morale to stay high and in turn, as helped on-field performance.

“The mood within the group is very positive, obviously winning games of cricket helps, but the boys have been great. We have families over here now which has been massive for us.

With the start of the BBL Finals series just around the corner, Hatzoglou is hopeful the Scorchers can keep up their winning form as they eye off another finals appearance.

“We aren’t trying to think too far ahead at the moment, I think it’s important to continue the momentum and aim to peak at the right time, I know we have more to give within ourselves and hopefully we can continue on with our good form and perform when it matters most.”

As for Hatzoglou himself, he hopes this is the springboard for further domestic cricket opportunities.

“I will be going back to South Australia after the tournament has ended and finish off the club season with Prospect but I’m excited to see where it takes me," he said.

“I currently don’t have a state contract, cricket wasn’t always a reality for me for a long period of time but now I am lucky enough to be able to balance the sport with full-time work.

“Let’s see how we go, maybe cricket will really take off for me, at least that is what I’m hoping for in the future.”