Respected state cricketer Avril Fahey has been honoured with a medal struck in her name for WA's Female Country Player of the Year.
Cricket marked another inclusion milestone last year with the inauguration of the Women's Australian Country Cricket Championships and WA is preparing to send its next team to the 2017 instalment, running from 7-11 January in Wollongong, New South Wales.
The tournament has long been a cornerstone of the sport's calendar, but for 40 years had been restricted to a men's competition.
The WA Country Cricket Board recommended the striking of a medal to acknowledge the state's best player in the competition and the naming of it after Busselton product Fahey, with the gong sitting alongside the men's equivalent of the Terry Waldron Medal.
The motion was approved and backdated to include the tournament's inaugural year, resulting in Fahey attending the recent cap presentation for the state's 2017 team and awarding the first Avril Fahey Medal to Lauren Mainwaring.
Fahey is one of WA's most accomplished products, having played six Tests and 40 One Day Internationals for Australia, while becoming the first woman to play 150 matches for Western Australia.
She retired in 2012 having represented her state in 164 appearances and having captained WA in 45 of those matches.
"When it came to presenting the medal to Lauren, I got a little bit emotional, because having your contribution to the game recognised in that way was a huge honour, and to see the next generation of women’s cricketers coming through is also very exciting,” Fahey said.
"Lauren grew up playing in Broome which would have been very different. She is a very level headed player, thoroughly loves her cricket and a worthy inaugural winner.”
The creation of the Women's Australian Country Cricket Championships is another avenue opening access to cricket for as many Australians as possible, regardless of gender, background or ability.
Fahey said that opportunity was particularly important for regional players.
"One of the real challenges for girls growing up in the country is having somewhere to play,” Fahey said.
"If you’re a 15-year-old girl growing up in Albany, the only time you get to play against your peers is in Perth, so to have something like this now is awesome and it will be very beneficial for the girls looking to take their cricket further in the future."
WACA Country Cricket Manager Steve Philippe said the initial tournament had been a great success, as the state's team for this year's competition prepared to depart.
"This competition provides an opportunity for girls living in the country and graduating from junior cricket to experience a state representative pathway opportunity,” Philippe said.
"It was very pleasing to see how much the girls enjoyed their time during last season's tournament, and this year we’re hopeful the girls can be even more competitive.”
WA's 2017 Women's Australian Country Cricket Championships squad: Meg Thompson (c) (Melville/South West), Lauren Mainwaring (vc) (South Perth/Kimberley), Hannah Biddulph (Cowaramup/South West), Melinda Knox (Broome Ladies/Kimberley), Sarah Prickett (Geraldton Sunset Scorchers/Mid West), Georgie Middleton (Melville/Great Southern), Kavita Pepper (University/Mid West), Jazmyne Roberts (Rockingham-Mandurah/South West), Mel Saunders (Rockingham-Mandurah/Peel), Kayla Van Spall (Midland-Guildford/Wheatbelt), Chloe Wain (South Perth/South West), Samara Williams (University/Great Southern), Chelsea Winchcombe (University/South West).