As Moeen Ali smacked a Washington Sundar delivery down long-on for a four, the Chepauk crowd found their voice again. CSK had yet again won a match at their famous fortress, which had been breached by a resurgent Rajasthan Royals just over a week ago, albeit by a very narrow margin. It meant that CSK had added another win to their tally.
Only moments ago, the crowd were at the top of their lungs wanting Dhoni to come out to bat. But out walked Moeen Ali, a left-hander, while Chennai’s Super King sat comfortably, waiting for a victory. Amidst all that noise about Dhoni, and the cheers after the winning runs, there was another left-hander silently going on about his business. Devon Conway had scored 77* in his side’s march to victory, still he went unnoticed in that environment. You’d think this player is in the wrong franchise, or rather the wrong player in this franchise, given the way he quietly slips under the radar of the excitement of a franchise so celebrated throughout the tournament’s history.
Devon Conway has always been that kind of player, the one who looks so simple, and silently and steadily does the job. During a time when the world was fixated on a young Indian line-up defeating Tim Paine’s Australia in their own backyard, an iconic series in COVID times, Conway was silently making his way into the New Zealand cricket team. He started off with scores of 41, 65*, 5, 63 in his first four T20I innings. He also stroked his way to 99* against a depleted Australia, all at a strike rate upwards of 140, to start making the world take notice. He got some more good scores and sustained his form in the T20I side.
He was given a try in the ODIs against the visiting Bangladesh team and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He started with a 27, then 72 in the second, before finally breaching the three-digit mark in just his third ODI, ending at 126 off 110 balls. Conway was silently adapting across formats and steadily making his case for a chance with the whites. But many pundits were still of the opinion that scoring in limited overs may hide technical flaws, that his unorthodox arsenal would not last him for long.
With a World Test Championship final approaching, the Kiwi management decided to give him a go. Devon Conway made his Test debut in front of a packed house at Lord’s, facing off against an English bowling line-up comprising James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with the devilish Dukes ball in hand. There was nothing silent or simple about that. Conway took to Test cricket like fish to water, and slowly and steadily reached not only his first Test ton, but also notched up his double ton, silencing all his critics with his fluent strokeplay, textbook technique, and pristine timing, fittingly getting out while running between the wickets. A score of 80 in the second test, and he was given the responsibility to open in the WTC Final against India. He made the only 50 of the first innings, and was pivotal in the Blackcaps’ victory in becoming the first team in history to lift the WTC Test mace.
He also took his side to the final of the T20 World Cup, which the Kiwis lost. Only one more box was left to tick : the Indian Premier League. Conway was selected in 2022 by the Chennai Super Kings, silently, for a base price of 1 crore. He got out for 3 in his first match, wasn’t selected in the playing XI because of the combination for a long time, then he returned again when the management backed him to come good. Conway responded their faith with three consecutive half-centuries (85*, 56, 87), silently, when the focus of the tournament had been on the fresh top teams battling for supremacy. Conway has formed a formidable opening pair with Ruturaj Gaikwad, and the duo already have the most century-plus opening stands in Chennai’s history.
Averages above 45 in all three formats of the game, a WTC title, a T20WC Final appearance, and 6 fifties from 13 innings in the IPL. For someone who has consistently achieved landmarks by performing superbly, Devon Conway is exactly the right player in exactly the right franchise, CSK. Because he is a Consistently Superb King.