The left-handed hitter now finds himself a key part of a Black caps team with the intention of continuing their winning path in the World Cup T20 starting this week after claiming the inaugural World Trials Championship.
Just over four years ago, Conway was an official cricketer in his homeland of South Africa, considered capable but not on the Protea radar.
Former teammate Omphile Ramela said the powers that be in South Africa Cricket he referred to Conway as an “amateur bully” who could dominate domestic attacks but was not good enough for international cricket.
With his career stalled, the Johannesburg-born hitter headed abroad in September 2017 at the age of 26 in search of new experiences.
Rather than go the beaten path from South Africa to England’s county cricket, Conway launched into Wellington on the advice of fellow countryman Malcolm Nofal, who had enjoyed a spell playing in the New Zealand capital.
“I realized that I had not taken advantage of the opportunities given to me with both hands and that I was not going to play higher in South Africa, so I took a leap of faith and came to New Zealand.” Conway, now 30, told AFP.
“I knew I still wanted to play international cricket, but the Blacks Caps seemed to be a million miles away at the time.”
For Conway, it was about “regaining my enjoyment of the game and finding a way to play cricket like I used to as a kid.”
The doubts that had chained his performances in South Africa aside, Conway lit up the New Zealand national cricket scene, topping the batting charts in all three formats in his first two full seasons with Wellington.
Named 2020 National Player of the Year, Conway swiftly entered the Black Caps after completing his three-year residency, and head coach Gavin Larsen said his talent was “impossible to ignore.”
He impressed internationally in limited formats, with The New Zealand Herald hailing him as “a one-of-a-kind player in a generation” – high praise when his teammates include players like Captain Kane Williamson.
Then Conway launched his test run in June this year with a scintillating 200 against England at Lord’s, setting a record score for a rookie in the field considered to be the home of cricket.
Later that month, he helped New Zealand achieve a surprise victory over Virat Kohli’s India in the final of the World Test Championship.
The victory eased painful memories for New Zealand of back-to-back losses in the 2015 and 2019 One-Day World Cup Finals.
“He’s given the group that confidence,” Conway said.
“We feel like we’ve been in and around those finals in recent ICC events and now we know we can win those moments.”
Conway has no experience in the United Arab Emirates, a co-host of the T20 World Cup, but is unfazed and says he would rely on advice from his teammates who have played there previously.
While playing in a World Cup is “epic,” Conway said the key to success was maintaining the no-nonsense approach that he brought to his game since his move to New Zealand, no matter how intense the atmosphere.
“The most important thing for me is trying not to take advantage of the big occasion, at the end of the day, it’s another cricket game,” he said.
“It’s about keeping a simple approach, taking each game at a time, and not looking too far ahead.”