Eng vs NZ: Devon Conway Reveals Conversation With Kane Williamson Before Test
New Zealand opening batsman Devon Conway scored an unbeaten 136 on debut on the first day of the first Test match against England at Lord's. (Twitter)

London: New Zealand opening batsman Devon Conway scored an unbeaten 136 on debut on the first day of the first Test match against England at Lord’s that helped him get past former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who till then held the highest score on Test debut at Lord’s. Besides Conway and Ganguly, four others have scored a Test debut ton at Lord’s.

While Harry Graham (107 for Australia in 1893) is the only other non-English player to achieve the feat, John Hampshire (107 in 1969), Andrew Strauss (112 in 2004) and Matt Prior (126 not out in 2007) are the Englishmen to hit debut Test century at Lord’s.

“Pretty surreal moment for me. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to my Test career. So it will take a few days for that to sink in,” said Conway after the end of the first day’s play on Wednesday.

“I had a conversion with [NZ captain] Kane Williamson a couple of days ago and I asked him ‘what’s it like to be on the honour’s board?’ and the first thing he said to me was ‘now you know,” added the 29-year-old Conway.

Williamson too has a century at Lord’s.

Conway is South African by birth and lived in Johannesburg before shifting to New Zealand in 2017. While he performed well at the provincial-level first-class cricket level, his performance at the highest first-class level in South Africa, the franchise cricket, was below par, forcing him to switch to a different country for better international opportunities.

In South Africa’s domestic cricket, he did extremely well for Gauteng provincial side averaging over 53 in 52 first-class matches but his average slipped to 21.29 from 12 first-class games for Lions at the franchise level. In T20 cricket too, while he averaged a shade above 46 for Gauteng, his average got stuck at 21.5 for Lions.

“To have that opportunity is a pretty special feeling and I certainly didn’t think about that (scoring century on debut) when I made the move [to New Zealand],” the left-handed batsman added after Wednesday’s knock.

“Just getting a Test debut, a chance to play at this level. I’m very grateful for the opportunities that Wellington have given me back home and the Black Caps now,” he said further.

Those who know him in South Africa, having seen him play, say that his lower averages were due to the fact that he wasn’t played regularly.

After he was picked in New Zealand limited-overs side for the first time in November 2020, Conway’s friend Dom Hendricks had told IANS, “He has gone to New Zealand with a point to prove.”

Hendricks, who was also his teammate at Gauteng and Titans, had added, “He would get one or two games at the Lions and would be discontinued. He did not get consistent opportunities for long enough. He wants to prove a point that he belongs to the highest level. I am glad he has been picked for the New Zealand side and his game has improved leaps and bounds.”

Titans coach Geoff Toyana, under whom he played, was also effusive in his praise.

“I have seen him since his U-19 days and always rated him very, very highly. He is a leftie, has all the shots in the book. He has a good head on his shoulders. He is a top-order batsman who makes big hundreds. He is not satisfied with scoring a hundred and getting out, he scores 180-200, i.e. big hundreds,” Toyana had told IANS over the phone from Johannesburg.

Toyana had predicted in November that he would be a successful Test cricketer.

“I see him being more successful as a Test cricketer. The way he plays and the hunger he has.”

(With Agency Inputs)