Peter Hatzoglou’s rapid rise from local cricketer to BBL star
Just like his leg-spin, Peter Hatzoglou’s rise to the top has been rapid.
The 22-year-old finance student has been plucked from relative cricketing obscurity to become a rising star of Australia’s top-tier T20 competition, the Big Bash League.
“It’s been pretty crazy and overwhelming,” Hatzoglou remarked.
A few seasons ago, Hatzoglou was plying his trade in third-grade premier cricket for Melbourne University. But his fortunes changed the following summer, when he left an impression on former Australian captain Cameron White.
“I was opening the bowling and I suppose I did well in this game and within the next week I was training with the Melbourne Stars, bowling to them,” Hatzoglou said.
“I’ve not spoken to Whitey about it explicitly but I feel like he made a few phone calls.”
Hatzoglou finished the season in Melbourne before he moved to Adelaide with his brother in search of greater opportunity.
It wasn’t until his birthday last year that he received a surprise phone call from Melbourne Renegades coach Michael Klinger, asking the young wrist spinner to join the squad for this season’s BBL as a local replacement player.
A tall, aggressive and speedy spin bowler, Hatzoglou made an immediate impact on debut against the Perth Scorchers, claiming the prized wickets of Cameron Bancroft and Mitch Marsh.
Reflecting multicultural Melbourne
While Hatzoglou’s ascent from local cricket to the big stage has been remarkable, the foundation for his overnight success was formed at his junior cricket club Sunshine Heights, in Melbourne’s west, where the Hatzoglou family has served for decades.
“It’s something that I hold very dearly and it’s a proud association,” he said.
“The club made it its mission to reflect the community we represent.
“Sunshine is a very multicultural community and I think at one point there were over 33 different nationalities at the club, ranging from South Sudanese to Greek and European.”
Matthew Shawcross coached Hatzoglou as a junior and has known him for most of his life.
“Obviously it’s a proud thing to be able to watch him play and think, yeah, I played a role in his development,” said Shawcross, the current vice-president at Sunshine Heights.
“He has always been a really talented kid, but I think just as importantly really determined and competitive young guy as well.
“Probably the thing that we are most proud of is that he’s been really determined in wanting to better himself and conquer each level that he gets to and what’s surprised us is how quickly he has been able to do that.”
‘We can do big things too’
Hatzoglou himself headed up the club’s junior coaching program last year and is proving an inspiration to his former pupils.
“It’s great. It tells us that we can do big things too because he came from the same club as us,” said Nikhil Cherukuri, who played in the Under 13 premiership-winning side coached by Hatzoglou.
“He’s been doing great on TV, he’s been making a name for himself.”
Shawcross said Hatzoglou’s success had been a huge lift for the club, particularly the juniors.
“So they’ve gone from being coached by him this time last season, to now watching him on TV and really following his career closely,” Shawcross said.
“Everyone’s talking about it, the kids are really excited and it gives them a little inspiration too that it’s a pathway they might be able to follow one day, because not that long ago Peter was in the same situation as them, training in the nets on a Tuesday and Thursday night.”
Hatzoglou is still treasurer at Sunshine Heights, a role that keeps him humble and grounded.
“It’s just something that my family has always done. We’ve always been involved in local sport and local cricket, and I’ve got every intention of continuing to do so,” he said.
“I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it but I’ve probably got a few transactions to record when I get back home.”
Hatzoglou has grabbed his limited opportunity and, while he is taking it one game at a time, he has ambitions to one day play for Australia.
“I just want to play as high level as I can and I feel like with the start I’ve had it’s not too far out of reach.”