Royston forced to settle for draw by battling Milton

ROYSTON recorded their first draw of the season in an up and down match against Milton at home on Saturday. Having set a commanding 217 batting first, Royston were taken to the wire by a battling Milton side who levelled the score on the final delivery of

ROYSTON recorded their first draw of the season in an up and down match against Milton at home on Saturday.

Having set a commanding 217 batting first, Royston were taken to the wire by a battling Milton side who levelled the score on the final delivery of the game.

Opening with Martin Leary and Matt Graham, Royston started perfectly as the opening partnership batted with confidence and exemplary technique.

The Milton openers were struggling to make inroads as Leary and Graham stroked the ball about with relative ease.

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Graham executed one particularly delightful on-drive while Leary was not afraid to loft the infield and punish the Milton attack.

After 10 overs the Crows were scoring at about five runs per over and controlling proceedings with Graham the first to reach his 50 as Royston passed the drinks break without loss.

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Leary followed suit and reached his half century as the opening duo put on a first wicket partnership of 133.

Graham, fresh from his 67 last week, reached an impressive 71 before he was stumped advancing down the wicket to Barton after 29 overs. He was replaced at the crease by Simon Seabrook who attacked from the word go as Royston had a solid foundation.

Seabrook looked in good touch as he crashed several boundaries, a straight six and a five courtesy of overthrows, but waved goodbye to Leary who was out deep midwicket, the longest boundary, after being caught for a well made 58.

Paul Miller was next in and begun a little scratchily but eased into his innings and partnered Seabrook well to put on 41 of his own.

Seabrook then fell for 36 from 29 deliveries, bowled by Day.

Given Royston's solid foundations, they could have pushed harder in the final few overs to post a daunting total but they ended on a suitably imposing score of 217 for four from their 45 overs.

With the ball in hand, Royston began strongly in the field with Chris Hootton striking in the first over with real pace to Clark who rifled an edge to Paul Miller as first slip.

Martin Leary then added another naught to the visitors scorecard, bowling Conlon for a duck in the second over, leaving Milton two wickets down for just two runs.

Royston could be forgiven for thinking they were in for an easy afternoon, however Milton battled on and appeared to get stronger further down the order.

They went 17 overs without losing a wicket, although the run rate was kept minimal by the Royston attack, and after the first change of bowling begun to sneak back into the game, harbouring thoughts of victory as the Royston bowlers struggled with their line.

Meanwhile Skipper Matt Gillham strung together a spell of tight bowling to put pressure on the visitors batting attack, which paid dividends when Smith was caught from his bowling by Matt Graham for 17.

Newton made a patient 32 from 88 balls to redirect the Milton innings before he was bowled by Ashley Judge, misreading a seaming delivery that kept low.

Gillham then struck again, trapping Coston lbw for 11, but Royston's attitude in the field was a little too relaxed and Milton didn't give in easily.

Some excellent work in the field from Ashley Judge saw the resilient Thorne run out for 40 and the re-introduced Hootton struck, bowling the left handed Conlon for seven.

At this point Royston should have been out of sight but too many extras were slipping by and Milton kept scoring despite the loss of Day, run out for nine.

Going into the final five overs Seaman was the protagonist for Milton and he smashed several brutal sixes to drag the visitors to within touching distance of Royston's total.

Some sloppy fielding and over pitching from Hootton allowed Seaman to reach 57 going into the last over.

Needing 12 from the final six balls, the running from Milton's batsmen was sharper than Royston's fielding and a no ball meant Milton needed just one run to win from the final delivery.

Hootton beat the bat with his bowling but the batsmen still ran, however wicket-keeper John Bason acted decisively with an excellent throw to run out Seaman before the run was completed, levelling the scores at 217 and drawing the game.

To Royston, the draw felt like a loss having been comfortable for so long but ultimately the 32 extras conceded massively boosted Milton's batting total of 185.

The Crows will take the positives from a much improved batting display, rueing only the usually incisive bowling attack.

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