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2021 in Review

Wisden’s Test innings of 2021, No.10 – Devon Conway’s 200

by Divy Tripathi 4 minute read

Placed at No.10 in Wisden’s Test innings of the year is Devon Conway’s 200 at Lord’s on debut.

Devon Conway 200 (347)

England v New Zealand
Lord’s, London
First Test
June 2-6, 2021

Every bit of Devon Conway’s story had some magic to it, from the very start to this innings. Born and brought up in South Africa, he started out in the country’s domestic setup before making a move to New Zealand in search of more opportunities and a fresh start.

The batter soon became a run-machine for Wellington, scoring a hundred in his second Plunket Shield match. He was the leading run-scorer in the Plunket Shield and Super Smash in 2018/19, and continued his golden run in the next season as well, being named New Zealand’s domestic player of the year on back-to-back occasions. In August 2020, the batter was deemed eligible to represent the Black Caps in international cricket.

He began with a bang, making a 29-ball 41 against the West Indies on debut. A Test call-up seemed imminent, but the Black Caps’ batting strength stood in his way. Eventually his chance came during New Zealand’s trip to England. Being nervous would be natural for a 29-year-old who had had to work his whole career for a chance. But if there were nerves, they didn’t show, with Conway bringing all that experience and knowhow to bear against a skilful England attack adept at using their home conditions.

There were shots that stood out, with a one-legged flaming flick evoking Kevin Pietersen, but what set Conway apart was his unfussy accumulation and his ability to assess and adapt to a situation. He looked like a player who had been doing this all his life, rather than one waiting all his life to do this. First he saw off the new ball with Tom Latham before setting about upping the ante. If a wicket fell, he’d take a step back (his fifty came off 91 balls despite being on 43 off 62 at lunch). As the bowlers began to tire, Conway clicked through the gears and eventually reached his hundred off 162 deliveries. Here, the hunger forged in years of domestic toil revealed itself. For most batters, a hundred on debut would have been a chance to relax but the Wellington batter was just getting started. He was unbeaten on 136 at the stumps.

The next day he looked at ease, managing to reach his double ton even as wickets fell from the other end, with his comfort belying the tough challenge facing New Zealand. Only one other batter passed 25, with Conway accounting for over half of his side’s runs. There was enough rain and resilience for England to battle through to a draw, but the tone had been set. An 80 followed in his next Test as New Zealand claimed a series-sealing win, and his 54 was the highest score of the World Test Championship final.

The Black Caps were top of the world, and it was the man who had waited a decade for a chance who had given them their final push.

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