Devon Conway: A Future Batting Great?

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Today we welcome new writer Sulaiman Karodia to TFT. It’s safe to say that the performances of a certain South African Kiwi have caught his eye...

To be or not to be! This is what was going through the mind of Devon Conway on that faithful day in 2017 when he decided to move to pastures anew to resurrect his somewhat stagnant cricketing career. A late bloomer, Conway struggled to establish himself in South Africa before making a move that few would be brave enough to make. Selling his house, car and going for broke, moving to New Zealand for a chance to play international cricket.

It was not smooth sailing for Conway who started off in New Zealand as a player-coach for Victoria University Cricket Club and coached 10-11 year olds in schools around Wellington to make a living. Fortunately for him, a gig with Wellington Firebirds emerged and he grabbed his opportunity with both hands. Three years later and after a string of fine performances and truckloads of runs including an unbeaten first class triple century, he was awarded a national call up.

It’s been two brilliant years as an international player for Devon Conway. He has been, despite being much under the radar, a fine player for New Zealand across all three formats and his record to date speaks for itself. In 37 T20 internationals, he has amassed 1233 runs at an average of 47.42, that’s the 3rd highest T20i average in the world. Only Virat Kohli (52.73) and Mohammad Rizwan (48.79) have a higher batting average in the T20 format.

In 18 ODI’s he has a fairly solid average of 45.81 including three 100s and three 50+ scores and in 12 Tests he has an average of 54.76. This is not far off established Test batsmen such as world number 1 ranked batsman Marnus Labuschagne (59.4 in 33 tests) and Steve Smith (60.9 in 92 tests) and higher than ICC Men’s Player of the Year for 2023 Babar Azam (48.6 in 47 tests) and Kane Williamson (53.83 in 90 tests). So the question must be asked, can Devon Conway go on to become a batting great?

There are but a few factors to consider when answering this question. Firstly, what does it mean to be a batting great? The answer to this question differs from person to person, however I believe that there’s a general consensus that getting to 10,000 test runs is what many would define as a batting great. I also believe that another barometer, especially in this day and age should be excelling across formats and not just in one particular format. By the looks of it, Conway can achieve both milestones given that he is certainly not a one format player and has already passed the 1,000 run mark in tests, in just 19 innings.

Age is another factor. It is no secret that Devon Conway is already 31 years old, as he got quite a late start to international cricket compared to most players. Whilst this may impact the kind of runs total he may end up with, given the fact that he is relatively fresh compared to other established players, and the fact that greats such as Sachin Tendulkar retired at 40, he certainly has a chance to become a great. A third factor that can be examined is his overall batting potential and whether his performances to date have been due to ‘luck’ or due to genuine quality. Given that he has amassed over 50 appearances for the Black Caps already and continued to perform, it can be believed that he possesses genuine quality with the bat.

A final factor that could determine whether Conway can really become a batting great is his performances in different parts of the world and on different types of wickets. When looking at this, one may recall him making a double century on debut against England at Lord’s in 2021. He has also made hundreds in the subcontinent against both Pakistan and India along with a few centuries in New Zealand and an absorbing 99 not out in a T20 against Australia in 2021. This may indicate that he has the ability to bat in different countries and on different wickets.  

In conclusion, obviously only time will tell whether Devon Conway can become a true batting great. Given his humble origins and current stats however, he certainly seems to have a good shot at it (if he can stay fit and retain his almost impeccable form).

Do you think Devon Conway has the potential to become a batting great? Have your say in the comments section below. Feel free to suggest other players that might become greats in time, too.

Sulaiman Karodia