Devon Conway stays grounded as debut looms: 'You just want to be ready and not look too far ahead'

Devon Conway poses after his triple-century Getty Images

Devon Conway, the South Africa-born batsman who qualified for New Zealand this August, is just "focusing on the task on hand" as he braces for a much-awaited international debut.

Conway, 29, led the run-charts in the Plunket Shield, One Day Trophy and T20 Super Smash last season, and has been in fine form for Wellington this year too, scoring 157 against Auckland earlier this month. His exploits earned him a place in New Zealand's T20I squad for the upcoming home series against West Indies, and he is looking forward to something "pretty special" over the next few weeks.

"It's all very exciting that it's happening. I'm just looking forward to getting out there for a potential debut," Conway said. "To be honest, I don't listen too much about the expectations people have for me. I think about staying in the moment and to focus on the task at hand. Whatever else happens, happens. I try to get away from that sort of thing.

"You never know when an opportunity is going to come, so you want to be ready and not look to far ahead. That's how I look at it. It's been pretty special - being with this group of players, and the environment and culture they have, getting to know them better. All that being said, I'm still waiting for the final XI for tomorrow to be announced."

Like most teams, New Zealand have not played an international game since March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but Conway doesn't expect the players to be too rusty.

"Most of the guys have been away with the CPL or IPL, so there won't be any new stuff to get used to. They know about their roles and the game plans. Right now, the boys are just looking to get out of isolation and bring their different energies together. It's all about being mentally ready. These guys are coming from the CPL, so they've already seen most of the bowlers and played against them. That's an advantage for us. They've been working and training for a while, so preparation wise, it's not a problem for us.

"With the T20 World Cup coming up in 2021, it's about working out all the positions and the best XI. And learning to execute your roles, be it in New Zealand conditions, Australian conditions or Indian conditions. It's pretty cool looking into the stuff behind the scenes. There are opportunities to see various players come and right now New Zealand are just looking to build a pool of players who could make that T20 World Cup squad. It's exciting times for New Zealand cricket."

Conway himself got some much-needed practice with the New Zealand A team in the past week, scoring an unbeaten 46 and 41 against the touring West Indians.

"I definitely gained a lot of confidence," he said. "Having the opportunity to play against some international bowlers was a big boost. Having the time out in the middle, I can take the confidence into the T20s as well, even though it's a different format. I know that even international bowlers can miss sometimes, so you can't let the pressure get to you.

"Luckily with the shorter format, everything happens faster. It's about calming the nerves, understanding the situation at present, and tackling it head on. In Tests and four-day matches, the pressure is with you longer. In T20s, you have to adapt as quickly as possible."

Conway also confirmed that he will be throwing his weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement on the field.

"Unfortunately, we haven't had the opportunity to meet together with the West Indies players. But Timmy (Tim Southee) and the management met with them, and they briefed us about the movement. It was awesome to hear about [how] we can support and get behind them tomorrow. It's a really good initiative that is creating awareness worldwide. Now it's all about backing that decision and supporting it anyway we can."