27 Nov 2020

The eight month wait for Black Caps fans is almost over

8:05 am on 27 November 2020

The long wait is almost over for New Zealand cricket fans, with the Black Caps all set for their first match in more than eight months.

Rovman Powell of the West Indies.


Friday night's first T20 against the West Indies in Auckland kicked off a home summer which had the New Zealand side also hosting Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia.

It marked 259 days since the Black Caps' played a one day match against Australia in Sydney - and then promptly rushed home.

But the Covid-19 enforced layoff for the New Zealand side hadn't been bad for everyone.

Wellington's South African run machine Devon Conway became eligible for his adopted country in August, and was in line for a Black Caps debut at Eden Park.

It was a moment Kiwi cricket fans had been waiting for for a while, but the laid-back left-hander insisted he wasn't feeling the weight of expectation.

"To be fair, I don't really listen too much about it. I think about staying in the moment as much as possible and being present and trying to focus on the task at hand.

"Whatever else happens happens and I try and get away from that sort of thing."

If selected, Conway's maiden international would come alongside up to four players who only joined the New Zealand squad on Thursday afternoon.

Wellington Firebirds Devon Conway.


Mitchell Santner, Jimmy Neesham, Lockie Ferguson and Tim Seifert linked up with the national team having spent two weeks in managed isolation after playing in the Indian Premier League.

Assistant coach Luke Ronchi, though, said all four were capable of an immediate call-up.

"There's not really any new stuff you're going to use with those guys.

"They've all been involved as well anyway so they sort of know game plans and styles and their roles and things like that.

"They'll just be more than happy to get out of their isolation and get amongst the group again."

Ronchi said the quartet of players coming from managed isolation only needed to be assessed in one way before being given the green light.

"We're just making sure that mentally they're all happy and ready to go really.

"They've been working with [Black Caps strength and conditioning coach] Chris Donaldson and Brendon McCullum and Shane Bond have been there [in managed isolation] as well so they've always been training and working with those guys.

"Preparation wise they actually should all be good to go."

Luke Ronchi will play just his second test for the Black Caps.

Luke Ronchi. Photo: Photosport

The match came after a clear reminder about not taking international cricket's return in New Zealand for granted.

Having arrived on Tuesday, on Thursday six members of the Pakistan touring party in managed isolation tested positive for Covid-19.

All six had been be moved into quarantine, while the team's exemption to train was on hold pending an investigation.

The latter also happened to the West Indies after they broke protocols during their managed isolation stay.

Having got through that, allrounder Rovman Powell said every player in the squad was excited for their first match for months with fans in attendance.

"The atmosphere in Eden Park is electrifying, as guys that have played here before have told us.

"So even if the fans are not cheering for us, we know they want to see good cricket and they want to see West Indies push New Zealand."

Whether that New Zealand side included Devon Conway would not be known until later on Friday.

But the New Zealand side's newest South African said if he did get the nod, two good showings for the national A team in a three-day warm-up match against the tourists had given him confidence in his transition from the domestic game.

"It's a different format, but it's the same concept.

"It just [helped me realise] that even international bowlers can miss, and it's not too much of a step up."