It had taken a run out to get rid of him for a round 200, more than nine and a half hours into an unforgettable maiden innings that saw him break a slew of records and earned a place on the Lord’s Honours Board. His was the highest score by a debutant in England, and against England anywhere. He is the second Kiwi – and eighth man overall – to score a Test double on debut.
That New Zealand’s overnight 246 for three had become 378 all out represented a victory for England, on a benign surface.
But, given four of those wickets had fallen for three runs in the morning session, and Conway’s 10th wicket partnership with the dashing Neil Wagner had been worth 40, it also felt like an opportunity missed. That sense was heightened given their callow top order had to come up against New Zealand’s excellent, awkward pace attack.
That sense proved prescient, when Kyle Jamieson pinned Dom Sibley in front – his review came very close to saving him – and Zak Crawley drove, feet leaden, at Tim Southee, and was caught behind.
England were 18 for two, the ball was new, the bowlers fresh, and tea was just round the corner. All of which made it a very fine time for their two senior batsmen, Rory Burns and Root, to stand up.
They were still there at stumps, having seen off Southee’s wiles, Jamieson’s bounce and all sorts from Neil Wagner – a sustained spurt of short stuff, as well as a tasty spell of swing in the final half-hour. Colin de Grandhomme is desperately difficult to get away, while Mitchell Santner found enough spin to make Jack Leach envious, too.
Burns has been in fine order for Surrey, making seven scores above fifty this season, including in his last six innings. He did so again here, finding the boundary eight times. Root provided fine support, showing off that trademark late cut. The stand was worth 93 by the time the players walked off at 6.30 with eight overs unbowled.
The partnership settled England, who had started the day in a similarly listless vein as they had finished on Wednesday. Conway and Henry Nicholls had passed 150 and 50 respectively, and taken their stand beyond 150. Everything seemed rather easy.
It was Ollie Robinson – presumably glad to simply be back bowling, after a turbulent evening – and Mark Wood, taking over from the old guard of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who made all the difference. Wood, who had bowled so quickly on Wednesday, bounced out Nicholls, then had BJ Watling caught at slip. Robinson had de Grandhomme plumb in front, and Santner plopped Wood tamely to mid-off.
It required fiddly contributions from Jamieson and Southee in helpful partnerships after lunch, then Wagner’s flair, to carry New Zealand to 378. Jamieson was bounced out by Robinson, who was denied a debut five-fer by a bad drop from Broad at mid-off off Southee. Wood, the pick of the bowlers, finished with three.
Broad had not had much of an innings, bowling well without reward on Wednesday. With Anderson picking up Southee, then the run out to end the innings, he went wicketless for the fifth straight innings (the first four in very unfriendly conditions), and suffered the indignity of being pongoed down the ground for six by Wagner, who also flicked him beautifully to leg.
Through it all stood Conway. It was a stunning innings, with his double-century completed by his first six, hoying Wood down towards the new Edrich Stand. It was some moment, and some knock.