New Zealand 'leap of faith' pays off for South African Conway
WELLINGTON, OCT 14: By his own admission, Devon Conway was struggling in South Africa before a bold move to New Zealand turned around his cricketing fortunes in spectacular fashion.
The left-handed batsman now finds himself a key part of a Black Caps squad intent on continuing their winning ways at the T20 World Cup starting this week after claiming the inaugural World Test Championship.
Just over four years ago, Conway was a journeyman domestic cricketer in his South African homeland, regarded as capable but not on the radar for the Proteas.
Former teammate Omphile Ramela said the powers-that-be in South African cricket referred to Conway as an "amateur bully" who could dominate domestic attacks but was not good enough for international cricket.
With his career at a standstill, the Johannesburg-born batsman headed overseas in September 2017 at the age of 26 looking for new experiences.
Rather than tread the well-worn path from South Africa to English county cricket, Conway pitched up in Wellington on the advice of compatriot Malcolm Nofal, who had enjoyed a spell playing in the New Zealand capital.
"I sort of realised that I hadn't taken the opportunities I'd been given with both hands and I wasn't going to play any higher in South Africa, so I took a leap of faith and came over to New Zealand," Conway, now 30, told AFP.
"I knew I still wanted to play international cricket but the Blacks Caps seemed a million miles away at the time."
For Conway, it was "about getting back my enjoyment of the game and finding a way to play cricket the way I used to when I was growing up".
Casting aside the doubts that had shackled his performances in South Africa, Conway lit up New Zealand's domestic cricket scene, topping the batting charts across all three formats in his first two full seasons with Wellington.
Named domestic player of the year in 2020, Conway was fast-tracked into the Black Caps after his three-year residency was completed, with chief selector Gavin Larsen saying his talent was "impossible to ignore". -AFP