Devon Conway has had his New Zealand residency visa approved, which means he will be able to return to the country after the tour of England.
Although eligible to play for New Zealand since last August, his residency application was still pending until a few days ago. Only citizens or residents are able to return under the government’s Covid-19 protocols so it could have caused problems for Conway touring but the doubts have now been removed.
“Very positive news came through a couple of days ago that that has been granted so he is allowed to come back into the country,” New Zealand coach Gary Stead said. “We are really pleased for Devon and Kim, his partner, who have managed to get that over the line.
“I guess it’s one thing that’s been on his mind that’s not there anymore. Who knows, one less thing on his mind he might score more runs.”
Conway is one of three uncapped players in the New Zealand squad for the two Tests against England, which will then be trimmed to 15 names for the World Test Championship final.
After a prolific ODI and T20I season it seems inevitable that Conway will make his debut against England at Lord’s in early June although there is still the tricky question of how he fits into a successful side.
There may be a natural vacancy at the start of the series if Kane Williamson is still involved in the IPL but one option being considered is for Conway to open.
“Tom Blundell has been the incumbent for a while with Tom Latham and has done a great job in that role, [but] I don’t think it’s his natural role though and think Tom recognises that as well so we just have to work through,” Stead said. “Devon, everyone has seen the success that he’s had, and we know he’s a fine player, it’s just working out what that looks like. Just too early to know that for certain.”
While it is hard to see Conway not finding a place in the XI for New Zealand’s next Test, Stead stopped short of anointing him straightaway.
“I don’t know if you can say you can’t leave [him] out because the New Zealand team has still done very well over the last wee while and Devon Conway hasn’t been part of that team,” he said. “No doubt he’s a fine player and we’ve seen every step he’s made has been a positive one. It’s not that you can’t leave him out, but he’s a fine player and we all know that.”
The New Zealand squad will depart for England in two groups on May 16 and 17 following training camps in Christchurch earlier in the month. They will then be based at the Ageas Bowl, which has an on-site hotel, during the initial part of the tour.
Stead confirmed that the originally planned tour match against Somerset would not take place due to issues around bio-secure bubbles and that the preparation for the Test series would include an intra-squad match with the help of some Hampshire 2nd XI players.