TIGERS coach Dan Marsh believes his team has been dealt a tidy hand in the new-look domestic season.
Defending its Sheffield Shield title and with strong grounds for believing it can challenge in the limited-over formats, Tasmania has plenty of grounds for optimism about the new season.
And Marsh is full of confidence as he takes over the reins from three-time Shield winner Tim Coyle.
His squad includes many players with international experience such as Ashes performers James Faulkner, Jackson Bird and Ed Cowan plus Australian Twenty20 captain George Bailey, Tim Paine, Xavier Doherty and Ben Hilfenhaus and a host ready to make that step including Alex Doolan, Jordan Silk and the perennially overlooked Luke Butterworth.
The season will be largely divided into sections for the three formats, with the one-day cup preceding a Shield competition bracketing the Big Bash.
The Tigers will need to hit the ground running as they feature in the first two domestic fixtures of the season and later face the traditional two away games to kick-off their Shield defence.
Asked if he preferred this to the usual format, Marsh said: ``It's probably too early to tell, ask me again at the end of the season, but we're certainly not worried, and actually quite excited by it.''
The former captain was particularly pleased by the arrangement of the one-day Ryobi Cup, which sees all teams play each other in Sydney during October.
``It's a new look and quite exciting because to have the cup played in one bracket mirrors a tournament,'' Marsh said.
``It's a good program for us because we can play those first two then come home for five days and recharge, hopefully with a couple of wins under our belt.
``We then go back fully refreshed and I see that as really good because when you're on the road for a long time it can be hard on people.''
With Brisbane Heat and Perth Scorchers both playing in the Twenty20 Champions League, Queensland and Western Australia have been handed later fixtures with the Tigers picking up the first two.
With the Ryobi Cup wrapped up by November, the Tigers begin their Shield campaign with tough trips to Sydney and Brisbane.
But Marsh said his squad was content with the arrangement, intended to give the Hobart grass more time to grow, which means four of their last six matches will be at home.
``I think the fixtures are pretty irrelevant, we know we'll always have to play a few games away at the start of the year,'' he said.
``If we can get off to a good start and get a few wins early, with so many home games following it sets our season up well.
``But as I said when I was appointed, the competition has never been so tight. Just look at both tables last year, there are no easy games in either format.''