Sussex have double reason to pin their hopes on a series of glory nights beneath the Hove floodlights.

The county hope to start making a move on the Norwich Union League promotion places by seeing off rock bottom Essex this evening.

Chris Adams' men may be third from bottom themselves but, with three teams going up and three going down, things can soon change in the league, as they found out the hard way when title talk turned into a relegation inquest within the space of a month.

It's not just about getting the results right on the pitch. Day/nighters now play a key part in many counties' budgets, including Sussex.

If the weather is bad it can be a bleak experience. Last season less than 1,500 enthusiasts ignored the rival attraction of the UEFA Cup final on television and braved the cold and drizzle to watch the match with Worcestershire.

Sussex lost on the Duckworth Lewis method while Arsenal were beaten on penalties. Hardly a night for clearcut verdicts, but it did lead to the county taking clearcut action on their day/night scheduling.

This year the day/nighters are taking place later in the summer, with the added buzz of live Sky coverage, and Sussex will be aiming to match the 4,500 attendance for last season's defeat of Lancashire.

The club were expecting at least 3,000 to watch tonight's match and will look to improve on that when Middlesex, Lancashire and Glamorgan visit.

Sussex's six Norwich Union games to date include just two at home, disappointingly attended affairs at Horsham and Arundel, so the race is on to pull in points and punters.

Skipper Chris Adams admitted: "This is where we have really got to use our home advantage.

"We have not had a great run in the competition so far. We have put a lot of faith in our day-night games at Hove.

"A lot of the lads have not played under the Hove lights before but we will give them a good hit the night before the game.

"We really need to find ourselves in one day cricket. Sometimes teams who are going well in the Championship find it difficult in the one-days and that is how it proving for us."

Since winning the National League second division two seasons ago, Sussex have enjoyed just seven victories against 12 defeats in the competition.

Murray Goodwin will be among those getting a first taste of the Hove twilight but day/ night cricket is a way of life for him having spent so much time in Australia.

He said: "I enjoy the day/night game. It's good for the spectators and it's always different under lights."

Norwich Union League: Division One Trent Bridge: Kent Spitfires 196 v Nottinghamshire Outlaws 195-7 (D J Bicknell 64). Kent Spitfires beat Nottinghamshire Outlaws by 1 run. Edgbaston: Northamptonshire Steelbacks 158-8 (R J Warren 80 no) v Warwickshire Bears 159-6 (M R Strong 4-39). Warwickshire Bears beat Northamptonshire Steelbacks by 4 wkts. Scarborough: Leicestershire Foxes 247-9 v Yorkshire Phoenix 231-7 (D S Lehmann 103). Leicestershire Foxes beat Yorkshire Phoenix by 16 runs. Division Two: West End: Hampshire Hawks 155-9 v Derbyshire Scorpions 139. Hampshire Hawks beat Derbyshire Scorpions by 16 runs. Old Trafford: Match abandoned, rain, 2pts each. No result. New Road: Middlesex Crusaders 128 v Worcestershire Royals 129-5 (D A Leatherdale 55 no). Worcestershire Royals beat Middlesex Crusaders by 5 wkts. Vodafone Challenge Series: Taunton: Australia 348-3 dec (R T Ponting 128, J L Langer 104 no, M E Waugh 55 no) & 335-4 dec (D R Martyn 176 no, W A Seccombe 76) v Somerset 267 (Aamir Sohail 50, D W Fleming 6-59) & 52-1