‘Mental scars’ haunt England: Waugh

n selector Mark Waugh says England will have to overcome “mental scars” and “a lot of negative thoughts” to force their way back into the Ashes series, quipping that their tailenders will be having nightmares for two months after being bounced in Brisbane.
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intend to make no changes to a winning bowling attack for the day-night Test in Adelaide so long as Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood pull up unscathed from the Gabba, resisting the temptation to rest one under lights and draft pink-ball specialist Chadd Sayers into the XI on his home track.

That spells bad news for the England middle order and tail, who were left ducking, weaving and fending for their own protection by a couple of intense short-bowling bursts by Cummins and Starc during the first Test.

England captain Joe Root required a replacement helmet and a concussion assessment after being struck in the grille of his lid by one hostile Starc delivery late on the third day at the Gabba, but it was to the lower order that ‘s fastest two bowlers found the short stuff most effective.

Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and seamers Chris Woakes and Jake Ball all fell foul of bumpers in Brisbane as England folded without great resistance in their second innings, with 1.97-metre Ball having so few answers that he could only smile, nervously, when in the thick of it and concentrate on getting out of the way. Others in the tail such as Stuart Broad were also given a torrid time.

“The first probably two-and-a-half days the pitch was really slow, so the short stuff just wasn’t going to work,” Waugh told the Big Sports Breakfast on Tuesday.

“We saw Mitchell Starc bowl nice and full on the first morning and, as the pitch hardened up that intimidation factor came in, in the second innings.

“There was a lot of short-pitched bowling. I reckon the three tailenders, they’re going to be having nightmares for two months waiting to go in to bat.

“Jake Ball copped an absolute pounding, as did Broad. [James] Anderson wasn’t there that long but it’s going to be a tough summer for the batsmen if the standard is that good.”

have made it clear they are not about to switch tactics after taking a 1-0 lead. Test captain Steve Smith declared after the win in Brisbane that the England tail could “expect a bit more of a barrage, I’d say” and that forecast was confirmed by coach Darren Lehmann as the n team flew to Adelaide on Tuesday.

“That’s the blueprint,” Lehmann said. “It’s no secret we’re going to attack their middle and lower order like that. Hopefully that success continues.”

“That certainly hasn’t changed from four years ago. It’s a bit different in than England where grounds are smaller and you can’t really get away with it. On bigger grounds you can. So that’s one for us that we see as an advantage. They did it quite a lot to us as well. It’s a ploy a lot of people do now.”

Waugh, who with Lehmann sits on the four-man Test selection panel, concedes that England will be better placed in day-night conditions in the second Test, which starts on Saturday, but believes the tourists will have psychological hurdles to clear after slumping to a 10-wicket defeat on the fifth morning of what was for the first three days a closely fought and engrossing contest in Brisbane.

“They were in the game, so they’ve got some positives to take out of it,” Waugh said. “But I still think there is going to a be a lot of negative thoughts going through their team heading into Adelaide on a pitch where it should even things up a bit. We know [in] day-night cricket, if you’re batting at the wrong time, it can be difficult.

“They should fight back but I think they’ve got a lot of mental scars to come out of that first Test.”

Crunch time as OrotonGroup ponders future

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OrotonGroup is on the verge of deciding to either sell, privatise, recapitalise or refinance its troubled handbag and fashion accessories company.

The company entered a trading halt on Monday ahead of its finalising a six-month strategic review of its business, brought on by plunging sales and earnings.

It would remain in a halt until it announced the outcome of the review or when the ASX opens on Thursday, it said.

Oroton’s share price has fallen from about $7.80 in early 2013, to $2.44 a year ago, to its closing price on Monday of 43??, its lowest value since 1999.

Oroton said in June that several parties had expressed interest in buying the group, refinancing its debt facilities or a recapitalisation.

The company’s stock is tightly held, with the founding Lane family holding 21 per cent of shares. Ross Lane, whose grandfather Boyd Lane started the company in 1938, was brought in to replace Mark Newman as CEO in April after its half-year profits fell 52 per cent.

The Lane family taking the company private is one possible outcome.

Gazal Corporation, the listed wholesaler of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen and Pierre Cardin apparel in , is also a potential player after buying 7.3 per cent of Oroton in July.

Fund manager and long-time company backer Will Vicars, of Sydney-based firm Caledonia, owns 18.2 per cent of shares. Mr Vicars offered up to $3 million in credit support to Oroton in June as it underwent the strategic review, led by investment bank Moelis & Co.

At the time, the company said the review focused on “maximising value for the company and its stakeholders”.

In August Oroton said it would shut the doors on its six Gap franchise stores, exiting the American fashion chain so it could focus on its core handbag business and limit future financial losses.

Oroton fell to a $14.2 million loss in 2017, including the cost of the strategic review and ending the Gap franchise agreement, down from a $3.4 million profit in 2016.

On an underlying basis, it ran at a $3.3 million loss compared with a $4.6 million profit in 2016.

Sergio Garcia looking sharp for final shot in breakthrough year

IN TOWN: Sergio Garcia meets the press on the Gold Coast. Picture: AAP ImageReigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia believes he is young enough and good enough to ensure his maiden major golf title isn’t a one-off.
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Garcia has brought his Masters green jacket to the Gold Coast ahead of his n PGA Championship tilt starting Thursday.

Garcia, a Madrid fan, has this year kicked off an El Classico game and visited Wimbledon’s royal box while wearing the jacket.

It even made an appearance at his wedding, while the Spaniard is due to wear it to Tuesday night’s Greg Norman Medal dinner.

“I thought I knew how big the Masters was and the green jacket, how much it meant,” he said.

“But then once you win it and you start travelling with it and see the reaction of the people and players, you realise how massive it is and how much of an icon that green jacket is.

“It’s been amazing, a little bit overwhelming and shows the respect you have to give.”

Gold Coast will be world No.11 Garcia’s final golfing engagement of what he describes as a career year.

But at 37 he has hinted there is still plenty more to achieve.

He said the long wait for a major title meant he was used to the pressure and not worn down by it after finally breaking through earlier this year.

“That expectation and that kind of outside pressure has always been there,” he said.

“I know what I want to do, know what my expectations are and what I need to improve on.

“If I can do that I know my game’s in great shape, I’m still fairly young and can still achieve many, many things and it’s fun to have those possibilities.”

Garcia’s last visit to came in 2010, when he contested the now defunct Masters at Victoria Golf Club alongside 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.

He returns to on the back of a win and a fourth among his last three starts, anticipating that precision iron play will be key at the Royal Pines course.

Garcia will partner Scott and recent Hong Kong Open winner Wade Ormsby in a star-studded round one group from 6.10am on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Newcastle trio James Nitties, Nathan Green and Cal O’Reilly will tee off late Thursday morning.

Nitties will start at 11.30am (on the first hole), Green at 12.10pm (10th) and O’Reilly at 12.20pm (10th). Newcastle’s European Tour player, Andrew Dodt, will tee off at 11.20am on the back nine.

The world’s fastest train and nine other modes of transport for your bucket list

Forget the planes, the trains and the automobiles. Sure, they’re perfectly acceptable ways to get around. They’re convenient. They’re simple. In many cases they’re unavoidable. However, if you have a passion for transport plus a thirst for adventure, there are far more interesting ways to get around the world.
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These are forms of transport that are often unique to their country of origin, and a ride on them is as much a part of the travel experience as any market or museum, any hotel or bar. They turn the act of travel into an adventure, into the sort of thing you’ll write home and tell your friends about, the sort of thing you’ll seriously miss by the time you get home. Matatu, Kenya

You’re unlikely to forget your first experience in Kenya’s most affordable form of mass transport. Matatus are clapped-out minivans that roam Kenya’s cities and countryside ferrying sometimes frightening numbers of people from place to place for the equivalent of a few cents. Climb aboard and you’ll be in for a treat, packed between brightly clothed locals, trying to figure out if you’re in the right van, trying to decide where will be the best place to yell out and say you want to get off. This isn’t the safest way to get around Kenya, but it’s certainly the most memorable. Tuk-tuk, Asia

Call them what you like – tuk-tuks in Thailand, rickshaws in India, CNGs in Bangladesh, bajais in Indonesia – but the system is essentially the same. You climb onto the back seat of a little motorised three-wheeler, negotiate a price and a destination, and then off you go on a hair-raising blast through dense traffic, pausing occasionally for red lights, passing cows, and the odd entreaty from your driver to visit a carpet emporium or jewellery store. This is the transport of the people, simple and cheap, and it’s something every traveller should embrace. Scooter, South-east Asia

Have a look around you in Vietnam, Cambodia or Thailand, and notice what the vast percentage of locals are using to get from A to B: scooters. Small Hondas or their Chinese-made equivalents loaded down with building supplies, cooking equipment, live animals or entire families. For a true adventure, you should be on one too. Either take a “xe om”, a taxi service on the back of a scooter, or hire your own for proper white-knuckle fun. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, and that you’re covered by insurance. Long-tail, Thailand

Anyone who’s been to Thailand has seen – or rather, heard – these things roaring along the country’s rivers, canals and coastal regions. Long-tails are traditional old boats that have had gigantic car engines plonked on the back, and propellers stuck in the water. They make a lot of noise, but they’re also a lot of fun. While they’re mostly used to transport tourists in the big cities and major tourism centres, once you get out into rural areas you’ll find these are common forms of transport for public and cargo. Get on board and enjoy. Cable car, Bolivia

Cable cars are no longer purely the domain of fur-clad European ski bunnies. In South American cities such as Medellin in Colombia, and La Paz in Bolivia, cable cars have become vital public transport, whisking commuters and tourists over the top of chaotic streets to get them to their destinations safely and quickly. It’s a brilliant idea that’s sure to spread, and it not only makes for a convenient way to get to your destination, but provides beautiful views as well. Funicular, Europe

It doesn’t matter where you try this form of transport – whether it’s in Istanbul or Salzburg, Barcelona or Budapest – the experience will be similar. You’ll climb aboard a rickety old railway car, often with stepped seating to keep you upright on the steep climb to come, and then slowly rattle your way up a hill, passing the one other car coming down as you’re winched to the top. Many of Europe’s funiculars are classic old beasts that are as much historical artefacts as they are modes of transport. Hovercraft, England

Much like the Concorde or the lunar rocket, the hovercraft is a fairly old form of transport that still seems like it’s from the distant future. I’m still not really sure how these things work – something to do with a pillow of air that makes large marine vessels skim across the surface of the water. Though they were hugely popular in the 1960s and ’70s, there’s only one commercial hovercraft service left these days, running from Portsmouth in southern England to the Isle of Wight. Get it while you still can. Maglev, China

Yes, technically this is actually a train – which kind of goes against the purpose of this list. Still, the Maglev, which runs from Shanghai airport to the city centre, is no ordinary train. It uses magnetic levitation (mag-lev) to reduce friction and therefore increase velocity, which means you’ll hit a top speed of somewhere around 427 km/h on your journey into town – and that’s easy to tell, because each carriage has a speedometer. There’s talk of developing a Maglev line in too; but don’t hold your breath. Chicken bus, Guatemala

What happens to North American school buses when they’re deemed too old for regular service? They end up in Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras, where they’re painted up in outrageous colours and sent in to battle on the highways and city streets. A ride in a chicken bus is an experience all of its own, a bumpy, slow journey through beautiful countryside that you’ll share with plenty of locals, plenty of luggage, and yes, occasionally a few live chickens. Camel, Middle East

Look, I’m not going to claim this is necessarily a great idea. Camels are pretty uncomfortable, intemperate beasts to spend long periods of time on top of, and it won’t be long before you’re swearing off them for life. Still, this is a bona fide, traditional mode of transport in the desert, and no trip to the Middle East is complete without a little time on camel-back. It might, however, be a case of first time and last.

What has been your favourite form of transport on your travels? Are there any you wouldn’t recommend?

Email: [email protected]苏州夜总会招聘.au

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‘Third time lucky’: Benji reveals earlier attempts at Tigers return

Benji Marshall reckons it’s a case of third time lucky.
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Twice previously, Marshall reached out to Wests Tigers about the possibility of a return. The first came after his ill-fated Auckland Blues stint. The second, also via his manager, followed his tenure with St George Illawarra. The answer came back “no” on both occasions. Which is why he wanted to make his pitch to Ivan Cleary a personal one.

“Coming back here is not about being energised or reinvigorated or whatever,” Marshall explained.

“This is about coming back to where it started and where I didn’t really want to leave in the first place.

“It’s no secret I was told to go, I just never had a chance to come back until now.

“I did try and come back [before] the Dragons and they had other plans, which is sweet. I did try again before I went to Brisbane and it was a ‘no’ again.

“Third time lucky.”

Marshall’s relationship with Cleary was limited to a handful of conversations in the greenroom before their weekly segments on NRL 360. Cleary enquired about Marshall’s availability when Mitchell Moses left mid-season for Parramatta, but Wayne Bennett wouldn’t allow it. Shortly afterwards, the Tigers signed Tui Lolohea and it appeared the window was forever closed on a comeback. However, Marshall was determined to make it happen. With his wife pregnant and keen to return closer to family in Sydney, he picked up the phone and arranged a meeting with Cleary. His pitch, made in a cafe in Homebush, hit the mark. Benji is back.

“What Ivan did say was that he wanted a link to the past, but still moving on,” Marshall said.

“Timing is everything. I think I needed the year in Brisbane, just to gain a bit of perspective and just enjoy it. There was no pressure there, which I really enjoyed. I feel like coming here, there is no pressure to do anything. I’m not the starting halfback or five-eighth, hopefully I’m on the bench. There’s no pressure on me to do anything. It’s just good to be back.”

If the comeback goes to plan, he will return to the New Zealand national side as well. As a proud Kiwi and a Seven Network commentator, he has been watching the Rugby League World Cup with interest. He has been disappointed, both with New Zealand’s performance and that fact he wasn’t part of their squad.

“I just wish I was in the team, I could have helped,” he said.

“I’ll never make myself unavailable for New Zealand. It’s my country and I will always play if they pick me. I will always be available.

“I thought maybe off of last years’s season I might have been a chance, but at least [coach David Kidwell] was honest with me and said Tamaire [Martin] and Kodi [Nikorima] and Thomas Leuluai were ahead of me at that point of his decision.

“Experience wise, just in the halves and managing the game – that [Tonga] game especially and maybe the ones before – I think in camp situations I’m pretty relaxed and not so serious.

“I like bringing all the boys together, that’s how I am. They could have done with a bit of that.”

Team cohesion will also be paramount if the Tigers are to taste success. Marshall’s arrival had the potential of upsetting their marquee recruit, Josh Reynolds, given one has proudly worn the club’s No.6 jersey and the other intends to. However, both couldn’t be happier with the arrangement.

“I was really excited to come here and play with the likes of Benji,” Reynolds said.

“I’ve always loved the way he played, he’s so silky and such a good ball player and I feel that’s what I need to work on a bit.

“I’ve been picking his brain and I listen in. It’s like my first day here and I’m listening to one of the great players of the game. I’ve got no ego, it’s not like I say ‘I know this’. That’s the best way, you can constantly be learning in footy because there’s always someone better at something than you. You come in with an open mindset and that’s the best way to be.

“Having Benji here is a good thing.”

A-League: Coach calls on senior men to lift in another test of Jets’ depthphotos

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ME: Teenage attacker Mario Shabow is in line to make his starting debut for the Newcastle Jets against Melbourne City. Picture: Max Mason-HubersERNIE Merrick is confident his young guns will “do a job” but it is the Jets’ senior players who the coach expects to step up against Melbourne City at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
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The Jets’ depth faces another test after Wayne Brown (calf) and Jake Adelson (knee) stretchedthe club’s casualty wardto seven.

Brown is only likely to miss a week but the news could not be worse for Adelson, after scans confirmed the right back had ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the youth team’s 1-all draw with Sydney FC. The 21-year-old now faces a third knee reconstruction.

Brown and Adelson join Ronny Vargas (ankle), Roy O’Donovan (groin), Jack Duncan (foot), Daniel Georgievski (knee) and Jason Hoffman (groin) on the list of injured players.Although Hoffman is a slight chance of being fit.

Coach looks to senior men to set Jets course TweetFacebook Jets trainingPictures: Max Mason-HubersThe more likely scenario is for teenager Mario Shabow to be promoted for his first start on the right wing and either Nick Cowburn or Johnny Koutroumbis to replace Georgievski at right back.

“It is certainly testing our depth which has been an ongoing thing during the past few weeks,” Merrick said.

“All the boys who have come into roles have done a very good job.At the beginning of pre-season training we made sure everyone was well aware of the roles and what wasexpected in attack and defence. There is nothing new to the boys, it is just getting used to the intensity and the pressure of first-team football. If you have more than two or three youngsters then the senior players really have to step up.”

Merrick said they would look to sign an injury replace for Adelson during the January transfer window, but for now thefocus was on City and continuing the Jets’ climb.

Newcastlesit in second place, four points above Saturday’s opponents, who have lost three straight and on Monday sacked assistant coach Michael Valkanis.

“Melbourne City are a wounded team and will be out to prove themselves,” Merrick said. “I think it will be a really tough match. I keep saying to our players that tough matches are the best ones at this stage of the season in preparing for the finals.”

Merrick expects Tim Cahill will be fully recovered from a taxing Socceroos campaign.

“Cahill will play some part and McCormack will play some part as well,” Merrick said.

“Although they have lost Osama Malik (suspended), they still have Neil Kilkenny, Luke Brattan and Stefan Mauk. It is a team rich in players.

“However, we are in great form as well. The other thing about City is that they play open football and have the type of players to play open football. It should be an end-to-end affair which really suits us.”

The Jets in conjunction with community partner,Greater Bank, hope to raise funds and awareness for charity CanTeen on Saturday. The club will give 1000 general admission tickets to fans who purchase a CanTeen bandanna for $5 at the Family Fun Fairto be held in the stadium’s western car park before kick-off.

Property Watch: Luxury waterfront property in Belmont hits the market

Luxury waterfront home could set record WHAT A VIEW: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road comprises a five-bedroom main residence and separate guest house and is expected to fetch a suburb record.
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LUXURY: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road is being marketed with a price guide of $3.5 million to $3.75 million.

WHAT A VIEW: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road comprises a five-bedroom main residence and separate guest house and is expected to fetch a suburb record.

WHAT A VIEW: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road comprises a five-bedroom main residence and separate guest house and is expected to fetch a suburb record.

WHAT A VIEW: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road comprises a five-bedroom main residence and separate guest house and is expected to fetch a suburb record.

LUXURY: This Belmont property in exclusive Bellevue Road is being marketed with a price guide of $3.5 million to $3.75 million..

TweetFacebookPARK PRESENCEA Merewether home that has only been owned by the one family and backs on to Gibbs Brothers Oval is expected to be sought after.

The three-bedroom home at 60 Curry Street is set on 664 square metres, has a separate double garage and large workshop and gated access to the oval.

It is being marketed by Daltons Partners with a price guide of $1.6 million and will be taken to auction by David Phelan on December 16.

SOUGHT-AFTER POSITION: This Merewether home has been in the one family since it was built in the 1950s and enjoys private access to Gibbs Brothers Oval.

PRDnationwide’s Joel Soldado is marketing 1 The Avenue, Maryville, a two-bedroom home on 516 square metres with rare off-street parking for four cars and adjoiningIslington Park.

It has a price guide of $850,000 and will be auctioned on December 23.

SUBURB RECORDSThree new suburb records appear to have been set in the past 10 days.

Dalton Partners sold historic Lambton residence ‘Cartrefle’for $1.54 million on November 23, setting a new residential house sale record for the suburb according to n Property Monitors.

In Caves Beach, McGrath Estate Agents sold stunning ‘Vantage Point’ in the exclusive Sea Cliff Place for $2.75 million, believed to be a suburb residential sale.

In Cessnock, Baird Real Estate sold a four-bedroom home in Chapman Street for $700,000. Agent Heath Baird believes it set a newa residential house sale recordfor the city.

According to APM, there have been 271 sales in Cessnock this year.

Find more property news on what’s selling around town on page 8.

UNDER $500KIf you are looking for a home under half a million dollars then there have been a few hit the market this week.

Andriessen Property haslisted 83 Wilkinson Avenue in Birmingham Gardens for $480,000, Elders Real Estatehas listed 13 Chinchen Street, North Lambton for $430,000 to $470,000 and First National are marketing a five-bedroom home at 48 Steel Street, Jesmond with a price guide of $450,000 to $480,000.

NEW AGENCYA new boutique agency has opened in Tighes Hill.

Tracey Stewart Real Estate is operational and will officially be launched on Tuesday evening.

Ms Stewart is a licensed real estate agent, stock andstation agent, strata manager, business broker and auctioneer.

Read more:

New $1.54 million record in LambtonBig auction results in Maryville and Merewether

Cricket: Newcastle quartet poised for NSW Country call-up at national championships

POSSIBLE: Newcastle off-spinner Nick Foster will be in contention for NSW Country squad. Picture: Marina NeilUp to four Newcastle cricketers are expected to earn Bush Blues’ caps for January’s national campaign when the NSW Country squad is announced this week.
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The representative team, set for official release on Wednesday, will be named in the wake ofNewcastle claiming athird NSW Country Championshipstitle in five seasonson the weekend.

Newcastle defeated Central Coast by three wickets in the 2017-2018 decider at Bowral’s Bradman Oval to seal an undefeated campaign and coach Shane Burley said tickets to the n Country Championships in Geraldton were just rewards.

“For us, we’re all about winning that trophy because these guys are really proud to represent Newcastle,” Burley said.

“To earn a cap is a by-product of that and another reward for their efforts.”

Newcastle quartet Burt Cockley, Nathan Price, Nick Foster andJoe Price are the most likely candidates with skipper Mark Littlewood, last season’s n Country XI member Pat Darwen and left-arm opening bowler Dan Morton all unavailable.

Former first-class paceman Cockley, by chance, and all-rounder Nathan Price, by choice, are back playing first grade in Newcastle this summer while off-spinner Foster and form dangerman Joe Price are both Bush Blues’ incumbents.

Newcastle rookie Dylan Hunter also put himself into contention with a hard-hitting half-century in Sunday’s showdown as well as picking up 4-22 with his left-arm orthodox spinners during the preliminary rounds at Inverell earlier this month.

NSW Country will be coached by Jeff Cook.

The national titles will take place in Western from January 5 to 13.

Meanwhile the Newcastle Steel side will give injured Joe Price (groin) all week to prove his fitness for Sunday’s crunchNSW Premier T20 Cup game against Sutherland at Glenn McGrath Oval. Price went down in a double header at home last weekendand may be replacedby Jonty Durrheim, who has been put on standby.

And finally the Newcastle under-18team will be ledby Josh Claridge at next month’s NSW Country Colts Championships inTamworth (December 18-21).

Test recall rumoured for Stokes after boarding flight for NZ

Ben Stokes could be back playing cricket in New Zealand as early as this weekend as another twist emerged in the all-rounder’s Australasian sojourn.
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The intrigue surrounding Stokes’ participation in the Ashes grew after he was pictured at Heathrow Airport on Monday night with a trolley full of cricket baggage, presumably on his way to . Stokes, however, was travelling to New Zealand, where his parents live, to spend time with his family.

It has since emerged Stokes is in talks with New Zealand domestic team Canterbury, to play in that country’s 50-over and Twenty20 tournaments. Canterbury is based in Christchurch where Stokes’ parents live.

The games would allow Stokes, who has not played competitively in two months, to get much-needed match practice should he be sensationally drafted into England’s flagging Ashes campaign. But the ECB says the trip was organised independent of the board.

The timing of the Stokes development has the potential to embarrass Canterbury, which last week had batsman Ken McClure stand down from representative cricket after pleading guilty to an assault charge.

Canterbury coach Gary Stead said at the time that the organisation is “committed to building strong, healthy communities and has no tolerance for this sort of behaviour”.

New Zealand cricket was in shock in 2013 when former international Jesse Ryder was left in a medically induced coma after being assaulted twice as he left a Christchurch bar. He has since returned to professional cricket.

Stokes is under police investigation in Britain after being involved in a wild brawl outside a nightclub in Bristol in September. He has been stood down by the England and Wales Cricket Board pending the probe and also faces disciplinary action from his employer.

A Canterbury spokeswoman issued a “no comment” when contacted by Fairfax Media about Stokes and McClure on Tuesday, but the team later issued a statement confirming it had held “informal discussions” with the player.

“The CCA [Canterbury Cricket Association] Board and New Zealand Cricket will independently be considering this issue in the near future but, until then, we are unable to provide any more detail on the status of the deliberations. As and when there are any further developments we will of course release further statements,” chief executive Jeremy Curwin said.

As a centrally contracted player, Stokes would need a no-objection certificate from the England and Wales Cricket Board, which Fairfax Media understands will be granted, while New Zealand Cricket would also need to sign off on any offer from Canterbury.

If a deal is reached, Stokes could be back on the field as early as Sunday against Otago.

“NZC has yet to receive a formal request regarding Ben Stokes,” the New Zealand board said.

“However, we understand he and his representatives have been in discussions with Canterbury.

“NZC has an open mind on this issue and will await further information, and an official request, before making a decision.”

The ECB said Stokes is not on official duty with Team England.

“The ECB is aware that Ben Stokes is making a private trip to New Zealand to spend time with his family,” the statement read.

“His travel arrangements have not been arranged by the ECB. He is not on his way to the Ashes, England Lions or any other official training camps with the England set-up.”

Smaller company share prices outpace market giants

A2 Milk. Photo Supplied
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With only four weeks to the end of the year, our sharemarket is likely to finish on a reasonable note.

Share prices are up more than 5 per cent; though most of that has been since August. Add in the dividend yield of at least 4 per cent and that’s a total return of about 9 per cent.

Our market lifted strongly through October and broke through 6000 points in early November, though it has pulled back a little since then.

As I have written, I am not expecting our market to sustain levels above the record of just-over 6800 points it reached on November 1, 2007, for a long time yet.

But behind the headline numbers of the market overall, CommSec chief economist Craig James has found that since the end of August, the share prices of smaller companies, those in the Small Ordinaries index, have lifted by 9.6 per cent.

Over the same period, share prices of the biggest-50 companies have lifted by only 3.7 per cent.

Smaller companies, as least as far as the index is concerned, have really struggled over the past decade.

Over the 10 years to October 31 this year, the S&P/ASX Small Ordinaries Accumulation Index (which includes dividends) produced an annual average compound return of minus 1.34 per cent.

James reckons the run in smaller companies shows investors are prepared to take on the higher risk that’s inherent in investing in smaller companies because of record low n interest rates, low returns elsewhere on n investments and firmer global growth.

He notes a number of small cap stocks are among the most-traded stocks on the CommSec sharebroking service, including A2 Milk and Pilbara Minerals.

Over the last three months, the share price of A2 Milk, the baby formula maker, has lifted by 51 per cent.

Pilbara Minerals, a player in tantalum which is used in electronics, is up about 170 per cent.

The n economy is in fairly good shape with consumer confidence improving just in time for the Christmas spending period.

While the jobs market is improving I do wonder if the employment figures are really capturing the full extent of under-employment.

And while the earnings of n-listed companies are certainly growing, they are generally growing less quickly than other developed-country markets. Most market watchers expect that to continue next year.

Wilson Asset Management founder and chairman Geoff Wilson reckons there are some positives from this year that will likely persist in next year.

The rebound of the mining sector, increased capital expenditure as well as the domestic infrastructure boom and strong growth in China were positive themes to emerge in 2017, he says. Wilson expects these themes to continue in the year ahead.

Despite the generally pessimistic view on n company earnings, they might surprise as capital investment by them is rising, he says.

“This may suggest is joining the global business investment recovery and has the potential to drive company earnings growth,” Wilson says.

Twitter: @jcollett_money