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Devon Conway is a ’true blue Kiwi’ assures Black Caps coach Gary Stead ahead of first Proteas Test

FILE - New Zealand's Devon Conway celebrates 100 runs on day two of the second cricket test match against Bangladesh. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP

FILE - New Zealand's Devon Conway celebrates 100 runs on day two of the second cricket test match against Bangladesh. Photo: Marty Melville/AFP

Published Feb 15, 2022


Cape Town - New Zealand's South African-born batting star Devon Conway has consulted his Black Caps teammate Neil Wagner about what it will be like to face the Proteas for the first time on Thursday in the first Test at the Hagley Oval.

Wagner, of course, was also born and raised in South Africa before packing up and heading south to New Zealand like Conway did in 2017.

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The bustling left-arm paceman has though already played six times against his birth country and experienced all the emotions that goes with it - the most heart-pulling being in the "opposing" team's line-up when the national anthems are rendered.

But Wagner had sound advice to the 30-year-old left-hander from Gauteng.

“I had a catch-up with him (Wagner) after the Bangladesh series and said to him, ‘What's it like playing against your place of birth’, and he said ultimately it's just another game of cricket and don't look into it too much," Conway said on Tuesday.

“Don't try and be someone you're not. Just try and do what you do and the rest will take care of itself.”

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The Proteas regularly face former South Africans that have opted to pursue their careers elsewhere in the world and captain Dean Elgar has already stated that his team will treat Conway like any other opponent out in the middle.

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However, he did mention that they, particularly Conway's former Lions teammates, would try to catch up with him outside of the battleground once the quarantine restrictions were lifted. Conway certainly wasted no time to reacquaint himself with his former countrymen, particularly a certain Temba Bavuma, whom he made his South African first-class debut alongside as 17-year-old St John's school boy.

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“It's been a long time since I made my debut playing alongside Temba, but it was good to see him at breakfast this morning [at the hotel] and have a small catch up,” he said.

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Black Caps coach Gary Stead is confident both Conway and Wagner are "true blue Kiwis" now and that their commitment and loyalty likes with no else but to the Black Caps.

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Conway has had a prolific start to his Test career with 623 runs an average of 69.22 - which includes a double century on Test debut at Lord's - and will occupy the crucial No 3 position in the absence of injured Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson, while Wagner has long been a cult figure in New Zealand due to his aggressive bowling style that has earned him 235 wickets at 26.60 in 56 Tests.

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“You've got Devon and Neil Wagner, so we've got a couple of people who were born in South Africa, but from our perspective they're true blue Kiwis now and even though they might have slight accents at times they're certainly working hard for the Silver Fern playing for our team as well," Stead said.