NEW boy Ali Orr began to fulfil the expectations placed on him with a smart maiden Hampshire century as he led a positive batting day for his side against Durham in the County Championship.

Opening batter Orr, who controversially moved from boyhood club Sussex in the winter, expertly amassed 126 for his first score for Hampshire. It was his first Championship hundred since September 2022 and his fifth all told.

Spinner Callum Parkinson was the pick of the Durham attack – taking three for 110 – but Tom Prest’s whirlwind 65 gave the day to the hosts, who ended on 336 for four.

Orr’s move to Hampshire from Sussex over the winter was said to have left shockwaves through county cricket.

He had become the latest high-profile player to leave Hove – after the likes of Luke Wells, Ben Brown and George Garton – and coincided with Chris Adams and Ian Gould leaving their posts on the cricket committee. It was said it was the latest illustration of the ‘big’ counties consuming the ‘smaller’ ones.

In eventuality, Hampshire have their best shot at ending their opening batting woes, while Sussex have barely felt the after-effects of the departure. They are top of Division Two despite playing a game fewer than the three teams behind them.

It hadn’t been a smooth start to life at the western end of the A27 for Orr – unsurprising given the mixture of hype and anger that marked his transfer.

He ran out his opening partner Fletcha Middleton in their first innings together to start a scoring run of 10, 13, 4, 26 and 6. This innings was exactly what had been promised when he signed.

He saw off the new ball with little worry, after his captain James Vince had chosen to bat, and showed a busyness to rotate the strike early on.

Hampshire were without the ill Mohammed Abbas – a blessing for Durham as he dispatched them for their two lowest first-class scores in one afternoon when playing for Leicestershire in 2018. Felix Organ was brought in as his replacement, on a pitch expected to turn.

Left-arm wrist spinner Callum Parkinson got the first look at those capabilities when he was tossed the ball in the 18th over. With his third ball he ripped one back almost 18cm with a googly to pin back Middleton’s middle stump.

The breaking of a 48-run opening stand did not spark a rush of spinning wickets.

Instead, Orr found his rhythm against the pace of Matt Potts and the wiliness of Peter Siddle as he reached his maiden Hampshire half-century in 94 balls.

Almost 60 per cent of his runs would come on the leg side, although that masked his true tactic; namely scamper singles off his legs and score his boundaries pleasingly around the ground.

He added another 86 with Nick Gubbins – who never found fluency in his 31 before he scooped Parkinson straight up to Ollie Robinson.

Orr got stuck on 90, for almost half an hour, with blocking and ball replacements stopping his route to three figures, but when it came – in 168 balls – he delivered a triumphant fist pump towards a cheering home balcony. It was his first century in his team’s first innings.

He departed with a tame plink to extra cover to give Siddle his first for his new county, before James Vince edged behind for a disjointed 41 to give Parkinson his third.

The quick-fire double didn’t put Prest off entering with gusto, sending four of his first 12 balls to the boundary before smashing his 13th for six. With Liam Dawson he upped the run-rate considerably, despite the second new ball, reaching his fifty in 62 balls during an 81-run unbroken partnership.