Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Conway rises from club cricketer to Black Caps ace
Following his player-of-the-match award against Australia, Devon Conway is riding a streak of five straight fifties to continue his rise through the ranks
23 February 2021, 12:59 PM AEST
It didn't take long for Victoria University of Wellington Cricket Club (VUWCC) captain Matt Fowler to realise their new player-coach - and now Black Caps sensation - Devon Conway could bat a bit.
Conway had scored a first-class double-century in South Africa before quitting the nation of his birth in 2017 due to lack of opportunities through the country's quota system, and VUWCC pounced.
Fowler said one moment stood out on Conway's journey from grade cricketer to international talent.
"It was a two-dayer and we'd been inserted on a green seamer. We were 6-28 and Dev was the one surviving batsman," he said.
"He worked with the other guys, rotating the strike ... he made 180 and we declared on 326."
Conway soon debuted in the domestic NZ competition and has been piling on the runs ever since.
His latest knock of 99 not out in Monday night's T20 clash with Australia shocked the tourists, but very few in his adopted home city.
The 29-year-old finished the Super Smash, NZ's equivalent of the KFC BBL, with consecutive innings of 50, 69no, 91no and 93no, in the final, as Wellington powered to the title.
If he can score another half-century against the Australians on Thursday, he will become the first man in the history of T20 cricket to score six consecutive fifties.
The modest Conway, who speaks softly and often mentions "how blessed" he is, seemed more enthused by another first from Christchurch.
"It was nice to bat alongside Kane (Williamson, NZ captain) for the first time ... I was pretty excited about that," he said.
After seven T20 caps, the left-handed batter is being tipped to make the Black Caps squad for October's T20 World Cup in India.
On his trajectory, breaking into the world No.1 Test side seems inevitable as well.
"You just have to ride that wave as long as it lasts," he said.
"It's been a dream of mine from a young age to play Test cricket but realistically if you look at that Test team at the moment there's no real space for me, which is understandable.
"The guys there are world-class players. They've won a couple of series on the bounce.
"I've just got to be grateful for the opportunity to play in the T20s and if the chance comes to play red-ball cricket, I'll take that with both hands."
In Wellington, VUWCC president Colin Owens said the club was chuffed, even if Conway never fulfilled his original coaching deal.
"He played his first Firebirds game six months after he arrived. We were hoping to have him for at least a season," he said.
"In the few months he played, he scored two or three hundreds. And they were big hundreds. He got noticed.
"From the first pre-season training you could certainly tell he wouldn't be in club cricket very long."
Conway has started to repay VUWCC, donating his $500 man of the match award to the club.
"I owe everything to them," he said.
Fowler also saw the funny side.
"There's an irony in that he was too good, and he got snapped up. But we're incredibly proud as a club," he said.
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, *Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee. *Finn Allen (on stand-by for Guptill)
1st T20: New Zealand won by 53 runs
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo