The stage is set for one of the most exciting - and important - Women's National Cricket League seasons in recent years, as the top players around Australia go head-to-head for their states in the 50-over arena.
For the first time since 2005-06 there is a new defending champion: the Breezair SA Scorpions, who broke the Lendlease NSW Breakers' 10-year hold on the competition last summer.
There is an ICC Women's World Cup looming in June next year, meaning this tournament is the perfect chance for players to attract the attention of national selectors and put their names in contention for Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars honours.
Some key player movements during the off-season have also set the scene for an intriguing battle.
The WNCL 50-over season will run from October 13 to December 3, before the second edition of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League begins on December 10.
Former Southern Stars skipper Jodie Fields will join the ACT Meteors for the 2016-17 season.
Fields, who led Australia to tournament wins at the 2013 Women’s World Cup and 2012 World T20 during a successful reign as captain, is one of three new faces in the ACT squad.
The 31-year-old wicketkeeper retired from international cricket in 2014 after playing four Tests, 67 ODIs and 37 T20s for Australia, but continued playing for Queensland in the WNCL and last summer represented Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League.
The Meteors have also strengthened their bowling department with recruits Nicola Hancock (VicSpirit) and Emily Leys (NSW Breakers).
Hancock recently returned from the Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars tour of Sri Lanka, while 23-year old Leys played for the Sydney Sixers in last year’s WBBL.
However the Meteors will be without experienced New Zealand pair Sara McGlashan and Lea Tahuhu, who are unavailable due to White Ferns commitments, while Sara Hungerford has retired.
"We were very conscious of finding experienced players to help fill the void of international duo of Sara McGlashan and Lea Tahuhu” - ACT Director of High Performance Aiden Blizzard.
The Meteors finished the 2015 WNCL season in fifth place, but were within one point of both VicSpirit and Queensland, while they were also the only team to beat eventual champions South Australia.
Lily Bardsley, Samantha Bates, Kris Britt, Kira Churchland, Jodie Fields, Nicole Goodwin, Nicola Hancock, Jodie Hicks, Claire Koski, Emily Leys, Katie Mack, Rebecca Maher, Erin Osborne, Angela Reakes
Ins: Jodie Fields (Qld), Nicola Hancock (Vic) and Emily Leys (NSW)
Outs: Sara Hungerford (retired), Sara McGlashan, Lea Tahuhu (both NZ commitments)
The Lendlease Breakers' streak of 10 consecutive WNCL titles was broken last summer, but they head into 2016-17 in a better position than ever after becoming the country’s first fully professional domestic women’s sporting team.
A significant sponsorship deal with naming partner Lendlease ensures the NSW Breakers players will earn at least the minimum wage of $35,000, with the top international players earning $100,000 or more.
The move by NSW follows Cricket Australia’s significant pay increase for the women’s game at the elite level over the past two years.
In 2015 the Women’s Payment Fund was increased by 36 per cent to $2.36m before nearly doubling to $4.23m in April this year, with Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars earning a minimum of $40,000.
The Breakers have also added talented youngster Belinda Vakarewa to their rankings for 2016-17.
The Breakers were aiming for 11 titles in a row, but it was not to be as they fell to South Australia by 54 runs in the final.
Sarah Aley, Alex Blackwell (c), Nicola Carey, Lauren Cheatle, Stefanie Daffara, Rene Farrell, Ashleigh Gardner, Maisy Gibson, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Lauren Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Belinda Vakarewa
Ins: Belinda Vakarewa
Out: Georgia Redmayne (Tasmania), Laura Marsh (England)
Queensland Fire have named one new player and five rookies in their ranks for the 2016 WNCL season.
Australia Under-18 batter Tess Cooper has earned her first full contract after a successful stint in the Queensland Academy of Sport in 2015-16, while allrounder Abigail Godfrey, wicketkeeper Josie Dooley, Darling Downs duo Maggie Murphy and Ella Whish and former ACT Meteors pace bowler Nina Westenraad have been given rookie contracts.
They join a star-studded Konica Minolta Fire squad that features Southern Stars Jess Jonassen, Holly Ferling, Beth Mooney and Grace Harris.
However the Fire will head into this summer without Ash Barty, who has returned to tennis after making her WNCL and WBBL debuts last summer, and former Australia captain Jodie Fields,who has relocated to Melbourne and will play for the ACT Meteors.
The Fire finished third on the ladder last season, with three wins and three loses to their name.
Delissa Kimmince (c), Jemma Barsby, Haidee Birkett, Taylah Brotherston, Tess Cooper, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Courtney Hill, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Jessica Jonassen, Bethany Mooney, Georgia Prestwidge, Kara Sutherland, Kirby Short
Ins: Tess Cooper
Outs: Jodie Fields (ACT), Ash Barty (returned to tennis), Kelsy Minty
South Australia Scorpions
South Australia will boast one of the game’s most successful players in their ranks this summer, after signing former England captain Charlotte Edwards for their WNCL title defence.
Edwards called stumps on her 20-year international career in May after England’s World T20 campaign ended at the hands of Australia in the semi-final in late March.
Having represented England in 23 Tests, 191 one-day internationals and 95 Twenty20s, Edwards’ record is unparalleled in the women’s game.
Her leadership experience will prove as handy as her skills with the bat, after Breezair SA Scorpions skipper Lauren Ebsary announced her domestic retirement, with Tegan McPharlin to take over as skipper this summer.
Experienced spinner Hannah Perry has also retired from the WNCL, while the Scorchers will be without England star Sarah Taylor – whose batting was instrumental in South Australia’s historic maiden title win last summer – after she announced in May she was taking an extended break from the game to battle anxiety.
The Scorpions have included two other new faces in their 2016-17 squad, Brooke Harris and Jordan Doecke.
"There is some added pressure being the defending champs, but it’s nice to know that we hold that title - it should give us confidence. There is no reason why we can’t beat New South Wales again" - Scorpions coach Andrea McCauley
The Scorpions made history last summer, winning their maiden WNCL title with a 54-run win over NSW in the final.
Sam Betts, Sarah Coyte, Jordan Doecke, Charlotte Edwards, Brooke Harris, Sarah Lowe, Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McPharlin (c), Bridget Patterson, Brittany Perry, Katelyn Pope, Alex Price, Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington
In: Charlotte Edwards, Jordan Doecke, Brooke Harris
Out: Lauren Ebsary (retired), Hannah Perry (retired)
Tasmania have added some international star-power to their line-up this summer, signing former Irish captain Isobel Joyce.
The 33-year-old batting allrounder is one of three additions to the Roar squad, joining New South Wales wicketkeeper Georgia Redmayne and local recruit Emily Divin for 2016-17.
Captain Veronica Pyke will once again lead the team this season and will have 26-year-old Brooke Hepburn as her vice-captain.
"The squad is looking forward to starting the season and they are once again leading the way with their fitness which should hold them in good stead leading into three games in four days," Tasmanian Roar coach Julia Price said.
"We have a strong squad but also some good local talent coming through our younger age groups which bodes well for the future of Tasmanian Roar."
"As the former captain of the Irish women’s team for a number of years, Isobel’s tactical nous will be welcomed by the Roar and its continued exposure to the diversity of cricket worldwide" - Roar coach Julia Price.
The Roar finished the 2015 WNCL season on the bottom of the table, without a win from their six matches.
Erin Burns, Katelyn Fryett, Corrine Hall, Brooke Hepburn, Julie Hunter, Isobel Joyce Erin Lawler, Sasha Moloney, Meg Phillips, Veronica Pyke (c), Celeste Raack, Georgia Redmayne, Emma Thompson
Ins: Georgia Redmayne (NSW), Isobel Joyce (Ireland), Emily Divin.
Outs: Paris Crowe, Linsey Da Costa, Carly Ryan, Emily Smith
Former Southern Stars batter Jess Cameron will return to cricket this season following a break from the game last summer.
The 26-year-old took an indefinite break from cricket last October and declared herself unavailable for national selection, including the recent ICC Women’s World T20, where Australia finished runners-up.
She played out the remainder of the 2015-16 Women's National Cricket League season with the Alcohol. Think Again Western Fury, playing her last match on November 22, but opted out of the inaugural Women's Big Bash League with the Perth Scorchers.
Instead, she played four matches for Diamond Creek in the Victorian Football League, kicking 14 goals in four matches including a bag of nine in her first game, and as recently as last month expressed an interest in joining the inaugural Women’s AFL.
But it was announced in May that Cameron would return to cricket, signing a deal with the Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit for the 2016-17 season.
Joining Cameron is a young and talented group of newly contracted players including Sophie Molineux, Alana King, Hayleigh Brennan and Makinley Blows.
Molineux was part of the Melbourne Renegades line-up and was also named for the Prime Minister’s XI and Shooting Stars sides.
The 18-year-old also led Victoria to their first Under 18 National Championship in 15 years and was named 'Player of the Championships', scoring 375 runs at an average of 62.5.
“The young talent in the squad is a sign of the positive future and ongoing development of the women’s game in Victoria. Combine that with the strength and depth of the mature, experienced players still in the squad, and we have an exciting side" - VicSpirit coach David Hemp
The Spirit finished fourth on the ladder last season, with three wins and three loses to their name.
Kristen Beams, Makinley Blows, Hayleigh Brennan, Jess Cameron, Sarah Elliott, Emma Inglis, Hayley Jensen, Emma Kearney, Alana King, Kirsty Lamb, Meg Lanning (c), Anna Lanning,
Sophie Molineux, Molly Strano
Ins: Jess Cameron (WA), Sophie Molineux, Alana King, Hayleigh Brennan, Makinley Blows
Outs: Kelly Applebee (retired), Danielle Wyatt (ECB commitments), Nicola Hancock (ACT), Cassie Brock, Briana Binch, Kathleen Hempenstall
The Fury have named a new captain for the 2016-17 season, with Elyse Villani to take over from Nicole Bolton, who has stepped aside to bring a better balance to her state and national commitments.
Western Australia have added three news faces for the upcoming season, recruiting local allrounder Taneale Peschel and wicketkeeper Emily Smith alongside former Hockeyroo Mathilda Carmichael.
Peschel, a former Australian indoor cricketer, earned a spot after good performances in Premier Cricket, while Smith crosses from Tasmania, having played with Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL|01.
Carmichael became the latest sporting star to switch to cricket when she signed with the Western Fury earlier this year.
Carmichael is no stranger to the sport, having been an accomplished young cricketer in New South Wales’ junior squads before deciding to concentrate her efforts solely on hockey four years ago.
Meanwhile, veterans Nicky Shaw and Jenny Wallace have retired, while Jess Cameron has returned to Victoria and Gemma Triscari has not been offered a contract for the 2016-17 season.
“Nicole has obviously made a tough decision, one I know the entire WACA family respects and supports her entirely on. I feel very honoured to take the reins this season and am looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead" - Elyse Villani.
The Fury finished fifth on the ladder last season, with two wins and four loses to their name.
Elyse Villani (c), Nicole Bolton, Megan Banting, Emma Biss, Melissa Cameron, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Bhavi Devchand, Heather Graham, Katie Hartshorn, Emma King, Chloe Piparo
Ins: Mathilda Carmichael, Emiily Smith (Tas), Taneale Peschel
Outs: Nicky Shaw and Jenny Wallace (both retired), Jess Cameron (Vic), Gemma Triscari