Blackcaps v Australia: NZ coach Gary Stead backing Devon Conway to end form slump

Blackcaps coach Gary Stead has backed opening batter Devon Conway to turn his form slump around, after a string of low scores.

Despite appearing to be infallible in early displays for the Blackcaps - including a double-century on test debut - Conway has struggled to recapture the form that saw him dominate bowling attacks.

In test cricket, he hasn't passed 30 in his last eight innings and hasn't scored a century in more than a year, with his last triple-figure score being 122 against Pakistan in January 2023.

In one-dayers, Conway has passed 50 just once in his last 12 innings - although that was 152 not out against England in last year's World Cup opener.

In Twenty20, Conway hasn't registered a 50-plus score in eight innings, with a high score of just 20 in that time.

That poor form has continued this home summer, but with Australia on the horizon, the Blackcaps will back him to emerge from the other side and return to his best.

"I thought Devon looked fantastic, before he went out in that last over," said Stead. "He started to look like Devon of old.

Devon Conway celebrates his last test century - coming in January 2023.
Devon Conway celebrates his last test century - coming in January 2023. Photo credit: Getty Images

"He's obviously come off a very long block of cricket, when you consider back from last year, and he played a fair chunk of the winter.

"I think he's just trying to deal with getting back into cricket, after we gave him a break after that Bangladesh series.

"He's a class player, he still averages over 40 in test cricket as an opener. When you look at that as a whole, you'd say there is definitely class there.

"We have a lot of faith and trust in him."

After being rested from the Bangladesh whiteball series, Conway played the first three T20s against Pakistan, but made just 27 runs, before missing the last two matches with COVID-19.

In the recently concluded test-series win over South Africa, Conway made scores of 1, 29, 0 and 17, as other members of the Blackcaps top order plundered runs against a weakened side.

All up, Conway's average in test cricket has dropped from the mid 50s to just 41.58 from his 20 matches.  

Perhaps not helping him is his huge workload, thanks to his success in the shortest format. Conway has become a key member of Indian Premier League champion Chennai Super Kings side and will return for their title defence later this year.

That success has also seen him sign for sister outfit Texas Super Kings in American Major League Cricket.

Previously, Conway, 32, has also turned out for Somerset and Southern Brave in England's respective T20 and The Hundred competitions.

The quest to return to form starts against Australia on Wednesday at Wellington, with the first of three Twenty20s.

Fortunately, Conway's T20 record against Australia is nothing short of exceptional. From six games, the left-hander has 284 runs at an average of 71, with scores of 99 not out in 2021 and 92 not out to open the Twenty20 World Cup in 2022.

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