New Zealand Head Coach Gary Stead heaped praise on newcomer Devon Conway and insisted that the southpaw oozes class and could potentially turn into a player as good as Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor. In his first 14 international innings, Conway has registered six fifty-plus scores.
The last two months saw New Zealand host Australia and Bangladesh for white-ball games but both were tours like no other as it saw the duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor take a backstep to let Devon Conway steal the spotlight. Born in Johannesburg, Conway, after years of tearing New Zealand’s domestic circuit apart, qualified to play for the Kiwis only last year but has made an instant impact.
The 29-year-old finished the five-match T20I series versus the Aussies as the second-highest run-getter and then followed it up with a Man-of-the-Series showing against Bangladesh in the ODIs, before striking an unbeaten 92 in the T20Is versus the Tigers to round-off his dream start. The southpaw’s incredible start to his T20I career has, in fact, seen him already break into the Top 4 of world rankings, despite having only batted 11 times.
New Zealand’s faith in Conway was evident when they awarded him with a central contract even before he made his debut, but now the country’s head coach Gary Stead has made an incredibly bold claim, stating that the southpaw could potentially, one day, become a batsman as good as Taylor and Williamson.
"I knew he was a good player, guess at times you can be pleasantly surprised how people make that adjustment. Devon looks like he's got all the skills of being an amazing player,” Cricbuzz quoted Stead as saying.
“We are very fortunate that we've had people in our squad like Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson and you see someone like Devon Conway come along and you think here's another guy who could be in that class.”
Having torn the Plunket Shield apart season after season, a Test debut for Conway is imminent, but New Zealand’s Covid policies could put the southpaw in an uncomfortable position when the World Test Championship and the England Tests beckon. New Zealand's COVID-19 regulations permit only permanent residents to leave and return to the country and Conway, interestingly, is not officially a permanent resident of the country, with his application for residency still in process.
Stead hoped for the complications to dissipate, and admitted that Conway is someone who he would love to have in the Test side.
"(I) think it's still in the pipeline but my understanding is Devon has been spoken to and is hopeful everything will be in place before [the series]. You've all seen how Devon's played this year; think I want him part of that Test squad, definitely.”
The last few months have seen New Zealand flex their muscles, with them handing out opportunities to new-comers and youngsters, and much to the side’s utter delight, all new faces have stepped up. Conway, Will Young and Finn Allen have all staked claims to be permanent fixtures in the first XI and this has provided the selectors with healthy selection headaches. Stead gushed about the country’s exceptional squad depth and termed the problem-of-plenty as ‘healthy’.
"I can assure you when we sit round the selection table they don't get shorter at the moment. Think that's a healthy problem to have. That depth is really important to our future over the next five to ten years. The guys that have been brought into the team for the first time or returning players who have come back - to see all of them step up and in team performances on most occasions that we are really proud of is the thing that's the most pleasing for me,” the Kiwi head coach said.