Who is new Black Caps star Devon Conway, and how was he lost to SA cricket?

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Devon Conway (Getty)
Devon Conway (Getty)
  • New Zealand's Devon Conway is the latest South African to make an impact on the international stage, but not for the Proteas.
  • The 29-year-old from Johannesburg made an unbeaten ton on debut against England at Lord's on Wednesday.
  • Conway, a prolific run-scorer for Wellington in New Zealand, has already represented New Zealand in limited-overs cricket.

That Devon Conway is playing Test cricket and cracked a maiden ton on debut against England on the first day of the first Test at Lords shouldn't come as a surprise.

He's been churning out the runs for Wellington in New Zealand's domestic competitions to a point where he had to be picked.

That he made his highly efficient 136 not out off 240 balls on the first day of the first Test against England at Lord's justified his selection after blazing starts to his limited-overs career for New Zealand.

But who is Devon Conway?

Devon Phillip Conway is a 29-year-old Johannesburg-born left-handed, top-order batter who came through the prestigious St John's College cricket factory on the outer edge of Houghton.

He came through the Gauteng schools cricket system where he played at the 2008 and 2009 Khaya Majola Under-19 Cricket Weeks.

His esteemed teammates in those years were Proteas limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma, who was at St Davids, highly-ranked limited-overs spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (Parktown Boys) and Quinton de Kock (King Edward VII School).

Former Lions, Cape Cobras and South Africa 'A' top-order batter Omphile Ramela said on a Facebook post that Conway, who left South Africa in 2017, was a victim of poor talent management in South Africa.

In the post, Ramela, who also went to St John's, revealed that he captained Conway at school level.

"In my view, Devon left because of poor talent management in SA. Some of his coaches referred to him as an ‘amateur bully’. And stating that he wouldn’t cut it at international cricket," Ramela wrote on Facebook.

"Listening to his interview today, it reaffirms the above, that 'he did not believe he would represent the Black Caps'.

"In other words, our system had effectively hammered his confidence and could not recognise his talent; thus manage it accordingly."

Before leaving for the Land of the Long White Cloud in 2017, Conway represented the Highveld Strikers, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal, the Dolphins and the Lions.

While he made the runs at three-day level, he couldn't quite crack it at franchise level in Johannesburg and Durban.

After making a ton in his final first-class innings for Gauteng in early 2017, Conway told New Zealand website stuff.co.nz that he and his partner had made the decision to move to New Zealand.

That they did, but Conway told the website that he did not blame the much-maligned transformation targets for his failures in South Africa.

"I didn’t quite knock the doors down when I was playing. It was my own fault, really," Conway said.

Conway isn't the first and won't be the last South African-born player to play for New Zealand.

Stumper BJ Watling, who will be hanging up his gloves at the end of the International Cricket Council World Test Championship final, was born in Durban.

Grant Elliott, whose pulsating innings against his home country in the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final in Auckland is the stuff of legends, went to St Stithians College in Randburg and played the bulk of his formative cricket in South Africa.

Neil Wagner and Kruger van Wyk played franchise cricket for the Titans before moving to New Zealand and making their marks there as international cricketers. 

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