Even Lillee would need spell these days, says Charlesworth

ONE of Australia’s most versatile elite-level coaches, Ric Charlesworth, has emphatically endorsed Australian cricket’s contentious rotation-based selection philosophy.

The inclusion of Tasmanian bowling all-rounder James Faulkner for Monday night’s Twenty20 loss to Sri Lanka took the tally of Australian representatives this summer to 33 in the 13 matches played across the three formats.

The spread of appearances exceeds last summer’s tally of 29 players in 19 matches.

In the past five years the only season in which more players were used was 2010-11, when a total of 34 were selected in 18 matches as Australia unsuccessfully sought to reclaim the Ashes and then prepared for the World Cup.

Charlesworth, a former Sheffield Shield stalwart for Western Australia who has held top-level roles in cricket – he was New Zealand’s high-performance manager from 2005 to 2007 – AFL and hockey, hailed the emergence of fast bowler Jackson Bird in the summer’s last two Tests as a tangible benefit of not relying on a clique of elite players.

”It would seem to me that the workload, the number of games played in the different formats, [requires rotation],” he said. ”I was arguing in the 1990s we needed separate teams almost, and that’s started to emerge [now].”

”People don’t really believe they can do it until they’ve done it, and unless you provide them with a lot of opportunities you don’t find that.

”Unless people get an opportunity to play you don’t really find out about their mettle.”

Charlesworth played 47 first-class matches for WA between 1972 and 1979, juggling a domestic-level cricket career with an international-level hockey career that took him to four Olympics. He played more than half his matches alongside John Inverarity, now Australia’s chief selector, and about a third with fast-bowling great Dennis Lillee.

The former opening batsman said Lillee was the fittest and hardest-working teammate he encountered during his cricket career but nevertheless predicted that ”if he had to play all the [current] different varieties of the game and field with the quality that’s expected now, that it would not be an easy task at all for him”.

As coach of the national women’s and now men’s hockey teams, Charlesworth has been an advocate of rotation, on the basis that ”if you want a sustainable performance then you need depth and flexibility”.

”The spin-off from that was many more people believing – and knowing – they could do it,” he said. ”You never picked your best team until the big series or the big competitions. That’s one of the issues cricket has to face, that every time Australia plays there’s an expectation it has to win.”

Charlesworth lamented that cricket was ”neanderthal” in some areas, such as rotation and the depth of statistical analysis, compared with sports such as baseball. He commended his former teammate Inverarity for his much-derided emphasis on ”informed player management”, the term Inverarity prefers to rotation.

”There’s a whole range of people in Australian cricket who don’t think you need a coach. Either cricket’s wrong or every other sport in the world’s wrong,” Charlesworth said. ”In baseball you manage your pitchers. In cricket you manage your fast bowlers I would’ve thought, and even the spin bowlers depending on what their loads are. To be fit for bowling you need to bowl – I have no problem with that – but how much is the issue.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

CA chief asks irate Warne to discuss complaints

SHANE, let’s talk.

That’s the message to Shane Warne from Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland, who has expressed complete faith in team performance chief and former Wallaby Pat Howard, the main target of Warne’s latest outburst.

Sutherland has invited Warne to discuss his grievances after the 43-year-old followed his graceless exit from the Big Bash League with a tirade about the contentious selection and player management systems in which he described team performance staff as ”muppets”.

Sutherland, in Canberra for the Prime Minister’s XI match against the touring West Indies team, said he had exchanged text messages with Warne on Tuesday but Warne was busy with poker commitments.

”From where I sit the team performance area is working very well from Pat Howard down and obviously we have got a team in transition,” Sutherland said. ”There is a detailed and complex plan in place to try to get the Australian team back on top as soon as possible.

”They’re working to a plan that came out of the [Argus review] … At times we need to remind ourselves about … the ambitions that were set within that and no one, least of all the people who sat on that panel, expected things to turn around overnight. And we’ve lost a couple of very senior players in the meantime.”

Warne has promised to publish a more detailed account of his views on his personal website.

Sutherland admitted it was not ideal that one of Australia’s greatest cricketers should tell the world the nation’s cricket was becoming a joke.

”It’s not ideal but Shane is entitled to express his view. Hopefully at some stage we will have a chance to sit down with him and understand a bit more about what is behind that. We’ve always had a good relationship with Shane and we know he genuinely cares about Australian cricket.

”I have exchanged messages with him today, just that we should catch up some time. That may or may not happen, that is up to him, but I value his opinion and I’m interested in his views. He will be listened to.”

Warne has been in dispute with CA since the ignominious end of his stint in the BBL, during which he was fined and suspended for one match for his part in an on-field bust-up with Marlon Samuels.

He also failed to appear at a disciplinary hearing after handing the Melbourne Stars captaincy to a teammate to avoid being rubbed out again for a slow over rate.

On Twitter, Warne said CA must look beyond rugby and get current cricket people involved in the game.

Warne, who is a close friend of Australia’s Test and one-day captain Michael Clarke, said it was ridiculous to deprive the sporting public of seeing the star batsmen in action during some of the one-day games against Sri Lanka earlier this month. Clarke had a sore hamstring.

”I think CA really need to look at the people who are making decisions on all facets of cricket in Australia, we r (sic) seriously becoming a joke!” Warne said.

”Absolute rubbish re selections, rotations, resting & farcical decisions on matches, joke. Dudding the public & too many excuses. Wake up CA.

”Can CA please put current cricket people in charge to run the game, select teams, not ex rugby or any other sports people plse, seriously

”We have the best batsmen/captain in the world in MClarke23 [Michael Clarke] – He needs current cricket people to help him out not muppets.”

Sutherland said Warne’s rant did not reflect Clarke’s views and said Howard’s rugby background did not detract from his ability to do the job. ”I can assure you I talk to and deal with Michael Clarke a lot and I have never heard anything other than positive or enthusiastic support for the role Pat is playing.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Rising trust in property

Australian-listed property is having a remarkable resurgence. Last year it was the best-performing sector of the Australian sharemarket, with a total return of almost 33 per cent compared with 20 per cent from the broader market.

That’s impressive, but cold comfort to investors who lost so much money when the listed property sector imploded during the worst of the financial crisis.

Over the past five years, the average annual return of the sector is minus 8.7 per cent.

There are three main reasons for the turnaround in listed property.

First, listed property had performed so badly that it just had to recover. Second, foreign investors have been buying our trusts because of the continuing problems in the US and Europe. Third, Australian investors continue to chase yield on the sharemarket as interest rates fall.

The reason that listed property had fallen so heavily – it dropped 54 per cent during 2008 alone – had nothing to do with the underlying properties held by the trusts. It was the complex corporate structures of many of the trusts. They had funded forays into overseas property by borrowing. They changed their spots from being mostly about rent collecting to increasing exposure to riskier ventures such as property development. During the GFC and the credit crunch, rolling over their debts became more expensive and the market marked down trusts with complex and debt-laden balance sheets.

The trusts, which are known as Australian Real Estate Investment Trusts (A-REITs), have produced a steady income of about 6 per cent for each of the past three years – not bad with a cash rate at 3 per cent.

They have also cleaned up their balance sheets and been more careful about their development and construction activities.

But the trusts are not going to return to what they once were. That does not make them bad investments; sensible property development can add a lot of value. But they are riskier investments than they were in the 1990s, so caution is needed.

In fact, the trusts have proved so popular with investors over the past year that the market capitalisations of some companies are higher than their asset backing.

The high Australian dollar is also acting as a drag on the economy, and tenant demand for commercial property is not particularly strong.

However, rental leases typically run for six to seven years, which should make the 6 per cent income from the trusts fairly secure.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Market promises to party on

‘As January goes, so goes the year’ is a well-known maxim of the market. It’s up there with ”Sell in May and go away”, or ”Never trust a broker”.

Known as the January barometer, there’s no rational explanation for it, which could be said for a lot of things about the sharemarket, come to that. I mention it only because it works.

And so the first week of January tells you all you need to know about the market’s direction. Put down your glasses because 2013 will be a doozy.

A more reflective version takes the experience of another three weeks to give it slightly more street cred, statistically speaking.

So using January 31, then barring some shock in the next two days, all seems safe there, too.

Mind you, January is easily the best month most years, which probably has a lot to do with so many enjoying, or just returning from, holidays.

Still, the January barometer has a 70 per cent success rate, well above the 50 per cent hurdle of being a fluke, according to the chief economist at AMP Capital, Shane Oliver.

So it would seem pretty safe to say this will be a good year for the sharemarket, especially as interest rates fall.

But has anybody informed the Australian dollar?

As it is, the sharemarket climbed 12 per cent in 2012 in real terms, well above the annual average going back more than 100 years, showing it must be confident of better-than-average growth in profits this year.

Then again, when central banks around the world are creating money, and lending it to banks for next to nothing, why wouldn’t the market go along for the ride?

Besides, it can be hard to tell just where Wall Street ends and other markets begin.

It’s certainly perky. The Federal Reserve Board is the prime culprit in printing money, which has dragged down the US dollar, helped to produce a run of rising profits for American multinationals, and pole-vaulted our dollar over parity.

Perhaps Wall Street is too perky. The VIX volatility index, a measure of market nerves, is the lowest since the global financial system cracked.

Amazingly, some analysts consider this bearish. They argue a bit of fear is good for the market in the way that a shock of adrenalin keeps you on your toes.

Beyond the decreasing likelihood of a European implosion, things are also definitely looking up for our two biggest trading partners.

China grew at an annual rate of 7.9 per cent in the December quarter, a feat even more impressive than how it collects and adds everything up in just 17 days – it’d be more like weeks here in Australia.

Guess with all those people they can count faster.

And the new Japanese prime minister is determined that Japan will come out of its 20-year funk.

There’s just one little thing: the Australian dollar is squeezing profits and putting a lid on growth.

So for the January effect to survive the year, you can take it that the dollar will soon be heading the other way.

Twitter @moneypotts

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Dig for detail to stay safe

Downing tools? When Virgin Money introduced a new income-protection policy recently, it was astounded at the interest in an extra that offered cover for people unexpectedly losing their jobs.

”We were absolutely flabbergasted at the uptake of the unemployment cover,” the acting managing director of Virgin Money, David Curneen, says.

People were ticking the box on the unemployment option in more than half the income-protection policies it was selling. Curneen believes the global financial crisis, along with general negativity about the Australian economy in the media, combined to make people feel more vulnerable.

Virgin’s unemployment option pays as much as $3000 a month for up to three months if you’re made redundant or, if self-employed, your business is declared insolvent.

However, you qualify for a payout only after the policy has been in force for six months, and you have to be out of work for longer than 28 days.

You also need to have been continuously employed for the six months before you lost your job, and to have been working more than 20 hours a week.

To receive the payment, you have to be ”entirely without gainful employment” and actively seeking work – so if you take on even a small amount of casual or part-time work to make ends meet, you’ll no longer qualify.

Crucially, the terms state that you have to have been made redundant or dismissed from employment ”through no fault or choice of [your] own, but solely because an employer has unexpectedly terminated … employment”. Unemployment caused by poor job performance, loss of qualification or licence, seasonal employment or a contract ending isn’t covered.

Industry researcher Mark Kachor, of DEXX&R, says the concern with these types of clauses in any such policy is when they might be invoked and what sort of evidence you might need to produce to prove that work performance wasn’t an issue.

”It has to be clear and unequivocal,” Kachor says of redundancy. A business going broke with all jobs lost would be clear cut, but the loss of only some jobs in a company less so.

And in any case, Australian labour laws mean everyone is entitled to a minimum entitlement based on years of service, he says.

”I’m not saying [$9000] wouldn’t help, but you’re already going to get a lump sum … so is that the most important thing to be paying a premium for?”

Some people mistakenly assume that income protection means your income is protected whatever the reason you lose it – illness, injury or job loss.

However, Australian law says unemployment cover can be offered only by general insurers, not life insurers, even though it’s life insurers that provide income protection.

That’s why, for instance, in the Virgin Money product the income protection is provided by life insurer TAL Life, and the unemployment cover by general insurer ACE Insurance.

The head of product at MLC Insurance, Meredith Barnes, says people need to understand there’s a key difference between life insurance and general insurance products.

Life insurance products are ”guaranteed renewable”, so once a policy is purchased, the only reason it can be cancelled is non-payment. That doesn’t apply in general insurance, so the insurer could decide at any time to end the cover.

”If unemployment went to 30 per cent and a [general] insurer decided they didn’t want to cover redundancy any more, they could scrap policies already in place,” Barnes says.

Instead, life insurers provide other benefits to people worried about their job security, such as a waiver of insurance premiums or the funding of loan or credit repayments for a period.

”If customers take our premium waiver option, if they were disabled or unemployed we’d fund the insurance premium so they’re still covered – the policy wouldn’t lapse,” Barnes says of MLC’s premium waiver.

The waiver lasts up to a year, and about 15 per cent of customers take up this extra.

Insurance broker Paul Davies, of Jarickson Insurance Advisers, says not many insurers offer specific redundancy policies, and the cover tends to be expensive.

Look for helpful benefits that might be included in your income-protection policy. CommInsure, for instance, has a built-in benefit that covers up to three months’ repayments on a loan if you’re made redundant – provided the loan is with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

ANZ-owned OnePath also has a built-in benefit that pays the minimum repayments on ANZ loans, up to a cap of $5000 a month, for three months.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.