Test batter Usman Khawaja was down the other end.“The first time I bowled to Uzzie since I changed the action, he pulled away before I even bowled the ball,” Dooley tells CODE Sports. “He pulled away and kind of laughed. When I first brought it in, I had a lot of really funny reactions to it.”Which brings us to this year’s Big Bash. After playing one game for the Brisbane Heat last season, Dooley was picked up by the Hobart Hurricanes and has played in each of their first three matches. A unique bowling action, where he does a full rotation of his right arm before beginning his delivery motion, has caught the eye. But so has his wicket-taking ability, the left-arm spinner snaring seven scalps at an average of 8.86.Put it all together and you’ve got a new cult hero – something Dooley can appreciate. “It‘s great. I’m just trying to stay level-headed,” Dooley admits. “It is cool to start getting that reaction again. I mean, if I was an outsider looking at my action, I’d be laughing at it as well because it’s pretty funny.”The 25-year-old is such an unknown quantity, meaning most batters are going into games without any prior knowledge. Yet it’s not just the windmill action that is bringing Dooley success. His ability to turn the ball both ways, generate varied levels of flight and land the ball on a dime, have made it almost impossible to pick him. Against the Perth Scorchers, Dooley dismissed Josh Inglis in a haul of 4-16.“It’s very unorthodox,” Inglis says.“It takes you a few balls to pick up properly and so you’re focused on the ball. “The arm swinging around isn’t actually doing anything, it just distracts you. I watched a lot of footage of him and you can watch as much video as you want, until you face [him], you’re not quite familiar with it.”*****So where did the windmill come from?The same place that thousands will roll their arm over this weekend. “I was impersonating Jasprit Bumrah on Christmas Day four or five years ago,” Dooley says. “Then I just tried it with my actual action in the off-season and I kind of liked what it did for my rhythm. The planes of my arms came through nicely and it just sort of stuck.”It was your typical backyard cricket set-up. Siblings and cousins around the field, a taped-up tennis ball trying to inflict as much damage as possible.But Dooley wants to make one thing clear about the technique. “I by no means developed the action to distract the batsman,” he says. “It’s something that just works for me.”The tennis court at the back of the Dooley property didn’t only launch the career of Paddy. Sister Josie has developed into one of the best wicketkeeper-batters in Australia, playing regularly in the WNCL and WBBL for several years. On Tuesday she scored 77 as the South Australian Scorpions comfortably defeated the ACT Meteors. And she has Paddy and her brothers to thank for becoming a keeper because they didn’t give her any other option. “She was always fetching the ball for us,” Paddy admits. “She’s the kind of person that loves being in the contest. I think if you’re a wicketkeeper, you’re in the contest every ball.”But the pair have had very different cricketing journeys. Josie has been playing in the WBBL since she was a teenager; Paddy’s path wasn’t as direct.“I pushed really hard for getting a contract straight out of school and didn’t,” he says. “I kept toiling away and started work, probably two years ago, full-time. And that just really gave me perspective on getting the enjoyment out of cricket and that’s helped my game.”Work for Dooley is as a solicitor for HWL Ebsworth Lawyers in Brisbane. Or at least it was until he decided this year, he’d go all in on cricket. “I got admitted as a lawyer at the start of this year,” Dooley says. “Work has been great, they’ve given me 12 months leave of absence to have a crack at cricket and see what happens.”“I’ve got a fall back, which is fantastic.”*****It’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Dooley is going to need that fail-safe. Even before his star turn for the Hurricanes, Dooley was given an opportunity to play for the Chennai Braves in the Abu Dhabi T10 League. A fielding coach from Brisbane put in a good word. “I was just a replacement player,” he says. “I got the call-up saying can we get your passport details and we’ll book a flight for you.“It was pretty cool, I got to play with and against some world-class players in high-pressure situations, it was fantastic.”In the shortened format, he took five wickets including Alex Hales and James Vince in the same match. While playing alongside experienced international stars like Carlos Brathwaite and Dawid Malan affirmed to Dooley he belonged at that level. Simply playing in stadiums, regardless of crowd size, provided a confidence boost for this Big Bash season. “The T10 was fantastic,” he says. “I hadn’t played at the SCG, never at the SCG or Launceston. It just doesn’t feel as foreign as I think it would have had I not played in the UAE. “I look down and I’m bowling at world-class players and it’s cool to know I’ve just got to do my best, compete hard and I’ll be doing alright.”*****Dooley knows the novelty of his action will eventually wear off. Batters will figure him out and from there, he will be on the same platform as every other spinner in Australia. It’ll be grade cricket roots in Brisbane, playing for Western Suburbs, that he draws on when the going gets tough.In 2018, former Australia coach John Buchanan took the role at Wests. It was only for two seasons, but he set the side on the right path for success – runners-up in his final year, while they won the premier division competition in 2021-22. “He was fantastic,” Dooley says. “He offered such a fresh perspective for our playing group.”A simple message from Buchanan has stuck with Dooley ever since. And it’s the same thought that is running through his mind when he’s staring down the batter at the top of his mark. “He (Buchanan) backs himself which I think is just huge, especially in the T20 format. “Quite often in T20, you’ll bowl two balls and they’ll both go for six. Then you will go, ‘What will I do?’. “You’ve got to trust your gut in situations when a guy is coming harder at you. You need to trust what your gut is telling you.”To this point, Dooley’s gut has not let him down. The Hurricanes will be hoping it puts him in good stead for the rest of BBL12.
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