NUL action reaches a conclusion this Sunday

This Sunday has to be the saddest day of the year, when the last round of Norwich Union League matches brings the curtain down on the 2002 English season. But it will not be sadness that is the overriding emotion in Cardiff where the new NUL champions - the Glamorgan Dragons - will get a tumultuous homecoming as they take on Warwickshire Bears.

Worcestershire Royals are confirmed as runners-up, but third place is up for grabs. Warwickshire Bears are there at the moment, but they have that tricky match with the champions. Kent Spitfires are four points behind the Bears with a total of 30, as have Leicestershire Foxes and Yorkshire Phoenix. It is Phoenix v Spitfires and Royals versus Foxes on this final afternoon, so anything could happen. Two of the teams already relegated, Somerset Sabres and Durham Dynamos, meet in Taunton with plenty of pride, if nothing else, at stake.

In Division Two, Gloucestershire Gladiators are the champions and they go to The Oval to meet another promoted side, the Surrey Lions. The Gladiators meeting the Lions has a certain historical ring about it! Essex Eagles are at home to the Sussex Sharks having made certain of promotion last week and now they will be looking to oust the Lions from second place in the final table.

Hampshire Hawks, Middlesex Crusaders and Sussex Sharks will occupy the bottom three places in this division, but there is quite a battle raging about which side will join them in the bottom four. Any one of the other three teams could still drop down there at the moment. So why is that important? It is because the bottom four teams in the Norwich Union League have to play against one another in the third round of the C&G Trophy next season. All the other first-class sides will have a draw against minor opposition that should make for a considerably easier passage into round four. The Hawks are at home to Northamptonshire Steelbacks, while the Crusaders travel to meet the Derbyshire Scorpions.

It might be all over bar the shouting, but there will be a fair bit of that as a great season of exciting one-day cricket reaches a climax and it will all be over for another year. Roll on 2003!