Before making his Test debut, Devon Conway was asked about the landmarks he would mark during his career by his Wellington team-mate Logan van Beek on the podcast Follow through with LVB. After growing up watching Jacques Kallis wait 15 years to hit his maiden test double-hundred, Conway said he dreamed of scoring one of his own … and winning a one-day World Cup.
In his very first test round, Conway made a sublime double century against England at Lord’s and two tests later he won the first world championship in testing. He then suffered a finger injury during Hundred, but is now fit and ready to take a crack at the World Cup.
“There has not been too much specific that I have been working on,” Conway said before flying out to the UAE. “I’ve been through a month of fitness training, which fitness trainer Chris Donaldson has sent me through, so a lot of fitness work has been done over the last month, and then I just let my finger recover from the little injury that I had a few months ago. But it all looks pretty positive and then goes through the T20 preparation – trying to work out a formula and what kind of plans I should try to implement in the UAE. “
The odds are stacked against Conway in the UAE. He has never played in the country before and has only toured the subcontinent once, after traveling to Sri Lanka on a school visit back in 2005. Conway hopes to be able to pick the brains of the other players who are more familiar with these conditions. Ten of New Zealand’s World Cup squad members are currently part of the IPL’s second stage in the UAE.
“I would not say I have had much experience in that kind of relationship, so I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead,” Conway said. “We have a lot of experience around the group that has played at that kind of levels and under that kind of conditions, so I’m sure I want to have lots of conversations with guys who have been there before and learn from them and forward. “
Conway has also worked with stroke coach Luke Ronchi, who has played 31 T20s in the UAE and scored 976 runs with an average of 33.65 and a stroke speed of 158.69. Ronchi’s muscle at the top was central to Islamabad United winning their second PSL title in 2018. The UAE hosted the league that season before the tournament moved to Pakistan for knockouts.
“It’s winning competitions, doing good for your team and creating a legacy once gone [the game]. “
“Yes, I’ve worked quite closely with Luke Ronchi and he’s been around Wellington,” Conway said. “He has a lot of experience playing in the UAE, so I’ve had a lot of conversations with him about specific game plans and what to expect and what a particular way of scoring looks like. So there have been a lot of conversations, so I suppose sometimes it’s much better to experience it in the nets before the match starts, so I look forward to getting over there and training. “
Conway usually open battles for Wellington, but his left-handedness and busy approach have given New Zealand a good opportunity in the middle order. In the last international home summer, he made four fifty-plus goals, including an unbeaten 99 off 59 balls against Australia in Christchurch. He had also advanced to the Super Smash final earlier this year, cracking an unbeaten 93 off 63 balls to help Wellington chase 176 and successfully defend their T20 title. Expecting yorkers on the stumps from Canterbury’s Will Williams in the final over, Conway gave himself swinging space to access offside and close out the win. Sure, Conway is no power-hitter, but such wise could serve him well in the UAE, where places are tiring on the IPL.
The experience of handling pressure at the WTC final against India will also benefit Conway. “The biggest thing for me is, try not to make too much of a big apartment out of it,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s still another game of cricket … so it’s about taking each game at a time and not looking too far ahead. So to say that being in the UAE will try to experience the opportunity will “It’s going to be pretty cool. It’s going to be one I’m trying to cherish for a long time, but I’m definitely looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”
Conway has only played a handful of internationals so far, but a great performance in a group that includes India and Pakistan to follow the test hero fashions of England could define his career.
“I would love to win a World Cup – whether it’s a day or the T20 World Cup – it would be quite special,” Conway had told van Beek, who is part of Namibia’s World Cup squad. “You know you see how the guys did in England not so long ago – just to see how much pride and how much they did for New Zealand as a whole and how people reacted to it and the way they played their cricket. on was pretty cool to watch.
“I was not involved, or I was not even in England, but to see how much it means to the people here to step up and show what a small nation it is to achieve such a great goal – it will be quite special. At the end of the day, there are statistics in this game, but you know that if you win the World Cup, people will remember those moments more than: oh, he had an average of 40 in the first-class game, or he took a ten-for. There’s more to it, it’s winning competitions, doing good for your team and creating a legacy once you leave [the game]. “
Deivarayan Muthu is the Editor-in-Chief of ESPNcricinfo