Not since the Canberra Comets at the turn of the century have we had seven teams in the domestic one-day competition.
A Cricket Australia XI will join the fray this season, featuring some of the country’s best young talent.
All the games will again be in Sydney’s suburbs from October 5 to the final on October on 25. You can check out the full fixture and broadcast schedule here.
The top three sides play finals – first goes straight into the decider while two and three play an elimination style match to reach the decider.
And what a bugger – no fantasy games committed to the Matador. We’ll have to do something about that next year!
Schon’s Predicted XIs:
Cricket Australia XI: Matthew Short, Sam Heazlett, Ben McDermott, Seb Gotch, Alex Gregory (c), Hilton Cartwright, Josh Inglis (wk), Jack Wildermuth, Jhye Richardson, Liam Hatcher, Riley Ayre.
James Bazley, Mitch Swepson, Matthew Dixon.
A tough side to pick as I’ve seen precious little of any of these blokes, but plenty have national and state youth honours. Short, Cartwright and Hatcher are three I’ll be watching really closely but the whole squad has enormous potential; nobody is over 24 years old.
New South Wales: Nic Maddinson, Ed Cowan, Shane Watson, Moises Henriques (c), Ben Rohrer (wk), Ryan Carters, Sean Abbott, Chris Green, Gurinder Sandhu, Josh Hazlewood, Doug Bollinger.
Ryan Gibson, Josh Lalor, Kurtis Patterson.
A very strong domestic side with their pace stocks a big strength, especially once Henriques and Watson are added to the equation. I see them as a top three side this year.
Queensland: Marnus Labuschagne, Chris Hartley (wk), Peter Forrest (c), Nathan Reardon, Charlie Hemphrey, Simon Milenko, James Hopes, Michael Neser, Ben Cutting, Luke Feldman, Cameron Boyce.
James Peirson, Billy Stanlake, Mark Steketee.
After years of success in this format, Queensland may be in for a much tougher campaign this time around. They’ve lost Khawaja, Burns (national duty) and Lynn (injury) but will be hoping their all-rounders will be able to provide enough depth with the bat.
South Australia: Sam Raphael, Travis Head (c), Tom Cooper, Callum Ferguson, Alex Ross, Jake Lehmann, Tim Ludeman (wk), Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Joe Mennie, Gary Putland.
Daniel Worrall, Nick Winter, Tom Andrews.
The Redbacks are starting to get some continuity with selection and their squad looks very similar to last year. All of a sudden there’s some exciting batsmen and talented bowlers pushing for national chances. They will surprise a few teams this season. Their young captain Head will be a star.
Tasmania: Ben Dunk, Tim Paine (wk), Alex Doolan, George Bailey (c), Jake Doran, Dom Michael, Evan Gulbis, Clive Rose, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, Sam Rainbird.
Hamish Kingston, Ryan Lees, (14th man yet to be named, Faulkner replacement).
I have confidence that this Tassie squad can make waves in the Matador this season, even despite the loss of Fekete and Faulkner. Their top order and bowling attack look really good (looking at you George), and the bowling is equally as solid. Still have one player to name and they could be crucial, because I see the Tigers making the top three.
Victoria: Aaron Finch, Rob Quiney, Cameron White, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade (c)(wk), Dan Christian, John Hastings, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Fawad Ahmed.
Scott Boland, Ian Holland, Jon Holland.
The Bushrangers came close last season but on paper have a squad that can go all the way this time around. So many of their batsmen are so versatile it was difficult to nail down their exact line-up. Can’t spot a weakness and a top three spot looks theirs to lose.
Western Australia: Michael Klinger (c), Marcus Harris, Jon Wells, Tom Beaton, Sam Whiteman (wk), Ashton Turner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Rimmington, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff.
Simon Mackin, Joel Paris, William Bosisto.
No Marsh boys and no Voges makes the task of defending their title very difficult. Wells is a handy acquisition but they will need further improvement from their youngsters like Beaton, Whiteman, Turner and Harris. No-one can pull a squad together like Justin Langer, mind you.
Who do you see taking home the silver barbie? Let me know below.