Exclusive: New Hampshire Signing Alistair Orr speaks on his move from rivals Sussex

By Huzaifa Yousafzai from Utilita Bowl

Anticipation has been building at the Utilita Bowl as Hampshire have already played three warm up games in preparation for the first round of County Championship fixtures which is set to get underway this week.

With back-to-back third place finishes, Hampshire are looking for a point of difference to lead them to a Division One title for the first time in over 50 years.

With a formidable bowling attack consisting of Mohammed Abbas, Keith Barker, Kyle Abbot, John Turner and spinner Liam Dawson, Hampshire decided that the top of the order was the place they needed to strengthen.

This is why they signed Alistair Orr from Sussex during the off season. Just shy of turning 23, Ali Orr is a left-handed opening batsmen who has already made a name for himself in county cricket.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing when the move was first announced though, as Sussex fans were understandably furious that a home-grown product with such high pedigree was allowed to move to their rivals.

Orr acknowledged the difficulties that comes with moving away from home but accepted it was a challenge he was willing to embrace in order to further his career.

“It is massive move for me, I am a massive homebird and my family are back in Sussex so for me to move away is quite tricky for me. I used to live in Hove during the summer, but I used to always go back home at the weekend. Now the drive up is quite niggly when going back and it’s not quite the same. So on a personal level it’s been difficult, but it’s been a nice challenge with actually having to cook for myself. I am living one of the lads actually so that’s been helpful.”

Despite his age, he has a formidable record against both the white and red ball through having an average of 40 in First Class cricket and nearly 50 in List A.

Orr followed up his form at Sussex with promising signs in a Hampshire shirt as he has hit the the ground running by already averaging 48 across his 4 innings in preseason so far.

He hopes his prolific run scoring will translate into similar successes in a more challenging Division 1 alongside putting him closer to gaining international honours in the future.

“My aspirations have always been to play for England, and I want to play the best possible standard of cricket I can. Whether it’s playing for Sussex or Hampshire that’s my overall aim and I don’t think that’s changed. Playing Division One cricket is obviously a big challenge for me, and I think it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. So coming down here (Hampshire) is definitely a part of the challenge that I’m really looking forward to facing.”

Orr further elaborates on how his aggressive batting style will aid his future ambitions as well as hopefully exciting Hampshire fans in the seasons to come.

“Coming from a pitch at Hove which is usually a bit quicker and a bit flatter to a pitch here (Utilita Bowl) which tends to move around a little bit more means I’ve had to adapt and change a bit. I quite like Duckett as a left-handed opening batter for England and I love the way he takes the game on, but I will adapt my game to what the team wants me to do. However, for me it’s always trying to take the game on and be brave.”

Having not won the First Division since 1973, Orr understands the importance of the County Championship to Hampshire and is fully focused on bringing the title to the south coast.

“The County Championship is the big one. Everyone wants it and with Surrey winning it two years in a row now, I think for them to win it a third would be very hard to hard to watch. That’s the big one that everyone’s working towards, and it would be special to win that.”