back icon


Devon Conway: An opportunist whose versatility bodes well for New Zealand

Last updated on 03 Jun 2021 | 07:20 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
Devon Conway: An opportunist whose versatility bodes well for New Zealand

The New Zealand batsman scored a stoke-filled ton on debut at Lord's to go with his impressive beginnings in limited-overs cricket

In what should have been a case of a new dawn in Devon Conway’s career, it turned out to be a goodbye. He signed off from the country of his birth – South Africa - with a maiden first-class double century for Gauteng in March 2017. Having played in the second division of South Africa’s first-class structure, he found opportunities to play at the highest level in the country very limited. As a result, at 26, he left South Africa for New Zealand, instead of agreeing to a Kolpak deal in England, where he had had stints with the Somerset second team.

Conway made his Plunkett Shield debut in March 2018 and three years later, he made his Test debut at the Home of Cricket. Not just that, he marked it with a maiden Test century and carried his bat through on Day One after opening the innings.

"A year or two before I decided to move to New Zealand, I felt like my career wasn't really moving forward," Conway told ESPNCricinfo

"I potentially wanted to give myself the best chance of playing international cricket, but unfortunately at the time, I didn't perform as well as I would've liked to. I just thought of trying to change things up," he added.

Opening the batting is not something that Conway is used to.  It was only the 20th instance of him opening in first-class cricket and the last time he did that was back in 2018 and heaverages just 25 in that position. Moreover, his century at Lord’s is only the third time he has passed a score of fifty as an opener and was also his first century. Staggering indeed.

Was Conway lucky to be in the XI? Given his form in the limited-overs arena, it comes as no real surprise. He has close to 700 runs from 14 innings in which he has five fifties and a century already. Also, he is no stranger when it comes to replacing Tom Blundell in the XI. 

When Conway made his Plunkett Shield debut three years ago, he was roped into the team as a substitute for Blundell and now, he has replaced his Wellington teammate in the XI for New Zealand.

Also, if a batsman has an average of 75 in first-class cricket over the course of the last five years, getting picked for your national side is the next obvious step.

Assured in defence and confident while playing shots, Conway looked as composed as he could be in his maiden Test outing. Not easy especially when you are up against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have over 1,100 wickets between them in Test cricket. 

Tom Latham struggled early on, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor flirted with danger more often than not, but Conway stood firm.

England tried their best to tuck him up by bowling around the wicket and Conway was more than happy to take the single and get away from the strike. The quicks did induce a few inside edges, but overall, the New Zealand opener seemed to be in control against all the bowlers.

Conway is also a makeshift wicketkeeper, first keeping in December 2017 after Blundell was called up to the Blackcaps squad. Just like his role as an opener, Conway has kept wickets only a handful of times, but it is a skill that is coming in handy for New Zealand as he has already donned the gloves for them thrice in T20Is, thereby allowing an extra batsman or bowler in the team – much like the role Rahul Dravid played for India in the 2000s, which allowed them to play Mohammad Kaif at seven more frequently.

In the three matches he has kept wickets for New Zealand in T20Is, Conway has already registered the second-highest individual score by a wicketkeeper (92*) for his country. Talk about instant impact! That’s pretty much how Conway has risen through the ranks since making the switch to New Zealand. 

Now he has it in his own hands to make the best of his opportunities and perhaps go on to cement his place as a New Zealand opener in Tests – something that will give the Kiwis a huge sigh of relief after giving many, including Blundell, Will Young and Jeet Raval an opportunity at the top in the recent past.

Related Article