David Saker is experiencing the rare sensation of taking some satisfaction from seeing an opposition batter go to town on his Melbourne Renegades bowling line-up.
Given his personal history with Mitch Marsh – and the perceived “harsh” public criticism of the explosive allrounder over the years – you can understand why.
Marsh has long been a divisive figure for fans and commentators but has hit back with a vengeance in the last two months.
The 30-year-old’s pair of half-centuries at the T20 World Cup were crucial to Australia’s success and he has carried that form into the BBL season.
He smashed an unbeaten century for Perth Scorchers against Hobart and continued his hot streak with another man-of-the-match performance on Wednesday, blasting 86 off 53 against Saker’s Renegades.
Marsh shapes as the key man when the two sides clash again at Marvel Stadium on Boxing Day.
“You never want to barrack for someone that’s (playing) against you but I’ve had quite a lot to do with him over the journey and he’s been harshly treated by people outside the Australian (national team) system,” former Australia specialist bowling coach Saker said.
“Anyone that’s had anything to do with him knows he’s such a great fella to be around.
“He’s had some great success over the last few months and anyone that’s been around him is really happy for him.”
Saker has Marsh’s brother Shaun in his Renegades squad, but has been unable to glean any secrets on how to prevent the “unstoppable” younger sibling firing against an attack led by experienced quicks Kane Richardson and James Pattinson.
“I’m asking everybody for that but I don’t think anyone in the world’s got an answer right at the moment,” Saker said.
“I did actually talk to (Mitch) before (Wednesday’s) game and said he was due to hit one straight up in the air.
“He did in his first or second over (off Pattinson) but his brute strength just gets it the 55-56 metres that he had to get it (to cross the boundary).”
Despite Marsh’s vocal critics, Saker maintained faith the allrounder would find form.
“It was always going to happen, it was always going to turn for him eventually, and it’s happening now,” Saker said.
“But I still think he’s due to hit one up in the air and that’s our Christmas present, I would hope.”