Devon Conway has turned into a cricketing run plunderer since moving down under.
Conway's avalanche of runs led veteran Kiwi star Ross Taylor to declare he has a "big future in the Black Caps".
And the South African says playing for New Zealand is now his dream.
Conway has played nearly 100 first class matches since his debut for Gauteng a decade ago. But his career only took off after shifting to Wellington two years ago.
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He became just the eighth player to score a triple century in this country, his unbeaten 327 against Canterbury at the Basin Reserve last week underlining his international potential.
The 28-year-old Conway, who qualifies for New Zealand in September, was named the domestic player of the 2018/19 season. He was also called into last month's T20 camp at Lincoln by national coach Gary Stead. Conway chats to the Herald .
A triple century…is it a sort of walking-on-the-moon experience?
It was one of those days, or those couple of days, that went really well. It hasn't sunk in yet. I can't pinpoint exactly how it all went down but I was really chuffed.
Or really puffed, after eight hours at the crease? How do you concentrate for that long?
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I basically stayed within my gameplan. Yes, the conditions became a bit easier as the wicket firmed up towards the middle of the day. But it's about staying within the process, taking each ball one at a time. Try to play as straight as possible and be selective about what shots to play against different types of bowlers. Stay in the present…it eventually builds up. Then you think 'oh, that's a couple of hours which have just gone by'.
What brought you to New Zealand?
I just thought I needed a change, to see more challenges. My mind set was to start a new life here. The most important thing was to fall in love with the country…cricket would take care of itself. I got in touch with friends from South Africa living here and they gave the place such awesome compliments.
I came with my partner of four years Kim. She had a good job in Johannesburg and made a lot of sacrifices to come here. Things went fairly well for me straight away but it took time for her…she's pretty settled now which also makes things easier for me.
Who did you rub shoulders with in South African cricket?
I grew up playing cricket with Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma in the Gauteng under-15s and under-19s. I also played alongside Kagiso Rabada, although he is a bit younger than me.
Were you ever close to national selection in South Africa?
No. I was never in the hunt. I probably didn't perform to my best ability there.
Has moving here unlocked your potential somehow, and have you set your sights on the Black Caps?
I have always aspired to play international cricket – it would be a dream to play for the Black Caps. I've been lucky in terms of timing…I got an opportunity to play for the Wellington Firebirds when Tom Blundell got a call up to the Black Caps test squad. I count that as very lucky, and fortunately I played decently in those games.
I've always backed myself but when I came out here I wanted to play with freedom and really enjoy the game. The Firebirds environment is awesome. It is a high performing culture where teammates back each other. That allows you to just play your game and really enjoy the time spent on the field with teammates.
Was it tricky adjusting to New Zealand conditions?
The wickets here are generally slightly slower and less bouncy than those I played on in South Africa. But I had already played in five different leagues in England – Somerset, Derbyshire, Bolton, Norfolk and Lancashire. The wickets are also slightly slower there.
You get around…
I spent six summers in the UK. It was a good opportunity to travel abroad, get to know myself a bit better and experience different cricket conditions and a different type of life.
South African cricketers have a reputation for being tough competitors…
There are a lot of quality players in South Africa and a lot of competition for places. Guys can never take their positions for granted. Because there are so many players to compete with, the guys are always looking to be on top of their games.
For me, there is also this motivation to succeed because it was a massive, massive move coming here, not only for me but for my partner. Doing well at cricket is just a cherry on the top after falling in love with the country and the people here.
Did you have a childhood hero?
Neil McKenzie (former South African batsman)…he was also born and bred in Johannesburg and I really liked the way he went about things as a batter and a person. He is a really humble guy. I was fortunate enough to play alongside Neil for the Lions.
I actually had a telephone conversation with him when I was eight. My father had coached him in a junior football team and told me that he knew him. I said to dad 'no way'. He said 'I've got his number…I'll call him'. I'll never forget that phone call. I was thinking wow, this is actually real. He had just come back from a tour to Australia, facing the likes of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath. I asked him how fast Brett Lee was. He said he bowls slightly faster than your dad's car.
You also play wicketkeeper…
I thoroughly enjoy wicketkeeping. Obviously I am behind Tom Blundell but it is nice to work with and learn from him. I want to improve that skill as well and you never know – I might come to use it in future in white-ball cricket.
Being called into the New Zealand T20 camp last month was a good sign...
We played two games and it was nice to be invited but I don't want to read too much into it. It was nice to get to meet more Black Caps and management and staff.
What do you miss from South Africa?
Friends and family. But my parents have been out and were there for my Super Smash debut with the Firebirds. It is awesome to be in this country although I'm still adjusting to the winters and the Wellington wind takes some getting used to.