Aadam Patel is a freelance sports reporter who has written for BBC Sport, the Daily Mail, ESPNcricinfo, the Cricketer and other publications @aadamp9
SA Tri-Series (1)
Ranji Trophy (4)
ENG-L in SL (1)
WI 4-Day (3)
SA v ENG (1)
IND v NZ (1)
Peter Hatzoglou had no intentions of spending his 24th birthday in Abu Dhabi. But he is now living the life of a T20 freelancer and with the way he is going, he will have plenty more franchise gigs to keep him busy and perhaps, many more birthdays abroad.
Hatzoglou finished his birthday celebrations on Sunday by watching The Lion King Musical in Abu Dhabi and by all accounts, enjoyed his Monday off. On Tuesday afternoon, he decided that the celebrations were carrying on. Hatzoglou turned up and bowled two overs against Moeen Ali's Morrisville Samp Army, dismissing Johnson Charles, Moeen and David Miller as he inspired Team Abu Dhabi to their second successive win.
In a side with the likes of Alex Hales, Chris Lynn, James Vince and Adil Rashid, Hatzoglou is very much becoming the main attraction. In his first over, he tossed the ball up to Charles and found his top edge before Moeen hit one straight to Fabian Allen at cover, who held on superbly with one hand. And when Hatzoglou bowled the destructive Miller in his second over, Morrisville Samp Army were left reeling at 21 for 5 and their chase of 101 was as good as done.
That they ultimately reached 82 for 9 was thanks to Basil Hameed, who smashed 47 not out off 18 balls to ensure the scoreboard looked remotely respectable. No other Samp Army batter reached double figures.
But this was Hatzoglou's day out and in many ways, this is becoming his tournament. In a format where teams tend to score at at least ten an over, his figures of 3 for 6 was quite something. His economy rate across four games is just seven and he is taking a wicket every seven balls.
On November 17, Hatzoglou sat his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exams and flew out to UAE for the Abu Dhabi T10 later that day. He is still awaiting the results from those exams but it's safe to say he is passing pretty much every test that's come his way with a ball in hand.
In addition to Tuesday's three wickets, his scalps in the tournament include the likes of Suresh Raina and Tim David. Right now, he has seven wickets for just 56 runs in the eight overs he has bowled in the tournament.
"Every batter's really trying to take you down," Hatzoglou said after the match. "My plan has not really changed to be honest. I've never played T10 before, but I'm just trying to hit the top of the stumps with a few more variations than what I would probably use in a T20."
He wasn't even meant to be here if it wasn't for a last minute pick by Paul Farbrace and co at Team Abu Dhabi. And in true Hatzoglou style, he didn't even know till he received a message from Tymal Mills, who he knows from their time together at Perth Scorchers.
"I was actually in Spain on a golf trip after The Hundred with some mates when the draft happened," said Hatzoglou, "so I put the YouTube stream on and I didn't get picked up. So we turned the draft stream off and got on with our night but what I didn't realise was that there was an additional pick for each team. I got picked then and didn't know but I got a message from Tymal Mills and that's when I realised I'd actually been picked up."
Evidently there is something about the man who described himself as an "accidental cricketer" that is proving to be a struggle for batters in the tournament. Whether it is his eye-catching action that is very much like the India wristspinner Ravi Bishnoi or the pace and energy that he bowls with, it is the overall element of surprise that Hatzoglou believes is one of his great strengths.
"When I was at Oval Invincibles in The Hundred, we looked at my bowling with the analyst Freddie Wilde," he said. "That pace is something that's very unique and the drift and bounce I get. I get virtually but no spin but generally speaking, that surprise factor has been huge for me."
Over time, that element of surprise will no doubt diminish but for now it is working wonders and as the saying goes "if it ain't broken, then why fix it?"
Hatzoglou will head to the Big Bash League after the Abu Dhabi T10 but unlike last year, he won't be returning to the KPMG office in the new year. The plan is to fully embrace the T20 globetrotter lifestyle. Who knows what comes next but the thought alone is exciting enough.