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Devon Conway: South Africa's loss, New Zealand's gain

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Who is Devon Conway?

Born and raised in South Africa, Devon Conway's cricketing career got a major shot in the arm when he switched over to New Zealand in 2017 and became a major part of the Wellington setup. Such was his stellar showing in domestic circuit across formats that Conway had a Black Caps contract in his hand in May this year even before he had qualified to represent the country.

The ICC had cleared Conway to represent New Zealand in March, but he was eligible only since August. New Zealand wasted no time to name him in the T20I side for the upcoming series against West Indies. Although he wasn't chosen in the Test side, the 29-year old is expected to become a part of the side in the longest format soon enough.

How did he reach New Zealand?

A Gauteng player in provincial cricket in South Africa, Devon Conway was frustrated with the lack of opportunities in South Africa. He hadn't quite clicked in franchise cricket, but opportunities were quite less too as he spent most of his time in provincial cricket, scoring heavily.

Lack of clarity with his role and the subsequent lack of opportunities forced Conway to look elsewhere. While Kolpak was an obvious choice, he moved to New Zealand, a place recommended by his friends in cricket who made a switch earlier.

Conway sold everything to get to New Zealand by his own words in an interview. "I sold my property, car and everything that we couldn't bring over, because I wanted to close that chapter and start afresh," he says. "If I hadn't done that and my cricket didn't feel all right after one season, I might have started thinking on the lines of 'Maybe I can move back'. I didn't want to."

The move paid dividends as he found a reliable club in the Wellington Firebirds who welcomed him. Conway paid back with the sheer weight of runs and by the time he had completed two seasons, it was fairly obvious that Conway would make it to the national setup as soon as he qualified.

Devon Conway's claim to fame

Devon Conway has had some stellar returns across formats in the New Zealand domestic cricket setup for Wellington.

In 2019/20, he topped the run charts in the Plunket Shield (first-class competition), the Ford Trophy (50-over competition) and the Super Smash (T20 competition). 

In the Super Smash in 2019/20, the format he has been selected in for the upcoming Windies series, Conway scored 543 runs at an average of 67.87 and a strike-rate of 145.18 with a hundred and five fifties.

He was also the highest run-scorer the year before that in the Super Smash with 363 runs at an average just above 45 and a strike-rate of 144 including a hundred. 

His Test claims are stronger with him being the highest run-scorer in the Plunket Shield in three successive seasons including the ongoing one. He also smashed a record 327 for Wellington against Canterbury in the 2018/19 season.  

What they said of him

Gavin Larsen, the New Zealand selection manager said at the time of giving him a contract - "Devon's form with the bat across all three formats these past two seasons made him impossible to ignore and he's going to be a great option to add to the batting mix."

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead - "We're looking forward to welcoming Devon into our environment for the first time and I'm sure he'll soak up the experience. With Colin Munro heading to the Big Bash and therefore unavailable for the Pakistan T20 series pre-Christmas, the selectors are keen to look at other batting options at the top of the order."

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @ICC

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