With Hatzoglu still in the UK this summer because of Warne, he took the advice of the famous Australian leg-spinner to play club cricket and give himself a chance to earn a Hundred contract. Having been called up by the Oval Invincibles, Hatzoglou will face London Spirit, coached by Warne in the inaugural tournament, in front of a packed crowd on Saturday.
It will cap a whirlwind year for Hatzoglu, who was still working for KPMG in Australia in April.
“I’ve always sought advice from those who have come before me and I reached out to Warren last year,” Hatzoglu said.
It came after Warne, during a remarkable 2020-21 season, in which he took 17 wickets for the Melbourne Renegades, commented on Hatzoglu’s strong performance in one of his first Big Bash League appearances. Complimented.
“I’m very impressed with this guy,” Warren said. “It’s very difficult to score – I think there will be a lot of interest in Hatzoglu around the world.”
As a leg-spinner, hearing Warne praise his bowling is the cricketing equivalent of Lionel Messi praising your dribbling skills or Tiger Woods validating your golf swing. It just doesn’t get better.
“That was one of the reasons I reached out to him initially, I honestly just wanted to thank him,” Hatzoglu said.
“Even to this day, I’ve got a clip on my phone of him commenting on one of my overs and whenever I need a little confidence boost, I watch that video.
“It’s great to have someone like him supporting me.”
Their relationship grew to the extent that Warne encouraged Hatzoglu to play club cricket in the UK and they last spoke a month before the spin legend’s tragic death at the age of 52 in February this year.
“I don’t know if I would have come to the UK to play this season if it wasn’t for him,” Hatzoglu added.
“I remember being in my office and when I got those messages from him, encouraging me to come out and play some club cricket here, I asked my colleague what he thought. And he said, ‘Just get out of here, go. Britain.’
“When Shane tells you to do something, you go and do it.”
Hatzoglu quit his job, packed his bags, and moved to the UK to play in the East Anglia Premier League for Sawston and Babraham Cricket Club.
After a successful summer with the Cambridgeshire side, he was picked up by Invincibles for the final stages of The Hundred in place of all-time leading wicket-taker Sunil Narine in the 2022 tournament, who has left for the Caribbean Premier League. are
“I didn’t think three years ago that I’d be sitting here watching the Thames at the Invincible Hotel, playing with Crans and Billings, Rousseau, all sorts of guys – it’s unbelievable,” he said.
Not long ago, a cricket career seemed so unlikely that Hatzoglu took a year off from the game to prioritize his exams.
“At the age of 18, I was playing village cricket, I had never even played in a state cricket age group team,” he said.
“Cricket wasn’t a reality for me – when I was doing my Australian equivalent of A-levels, I didn’t even play cricket, I took a year off to focus on that.”
In 2016, after completing his exams, Hatzoglou joined village side Sunshine Heights in Victoria, becoming the club’s treasurer – a position he still holds long after his BBL debut.
In 2019, he came to the UK and played for Ashton on Mersey in the fourth division of the Cheshire Cricket League.
It certainly wasn’t the most glamorous start to a cricket career, but his undeniable talent was eventually noticed, and in 2020 he was drafted by the Renegades in the BBL, before moving to the Perth Scorchers for the 2021-22 season. .
“My first season at the Big Bash was still the club treasurer who paid the captain of the third XI and paid the umpire at the weekend – it was really funny and fantastic,” he said.
“I think my story is as good as it gets in inspiring people to persevere and hope for the best in a cricket career.”
Despite his rising star status, Hatzoglu hasn’t forgotten his roots. He was born to a Greek father and a North Macedonian mother, and his heritage is important to him.
“I speak both languages and that has always been important to me,” he said. “I’m going to Greece later this year to do a bit of traveling and possibly link up with the Greek national cricket team.”
Before the trip to Greece, though, Hatzoglu has some revisions to make. After The Hundred, he will return to Australia and go to the library to prepare for the upcoming exams.
“I’m currently studying for my Chartered Financial Analyst exams, so that takes up a lot of my time outside of the game,” he said.
“It’s really just a case of having a solid backup plan. It allows me to play with a lot of freedom when I’m on the field.”