James Hopes was earmarked for higher honours in national youth teams, but took a few years to settle once graduating to the first-class level. Over the past three seasons he has been a regular with the limited-overs squads and was a fixture in the first 20 ODIs of 2009, chipping in with 20 wickets and 381 runs, including his second half-century. A brisk medium-pacer whose aggressive and versatile batting is used at the top and lower reaches of the order, Hopes has secured a role as an evenly balanced allrounder.
In 2007-08 he experienced a busy campaign with 24 ODIs as he took part in all of Australia's one-day series. As well as useful batting contributions, there was usually a breakthrough in every game and his multi-purpose skills became highly valued by the team. The IPL franchise King's XI Punjab picked him up and he was a fine contributor in the opening season, but missed the second event to rest an injury before the World Twenty20. He has had to fight for international recognition, battling with Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds and Cameron White for game time.
If Watson had returned to Queensland from Tasmania a year earlier, Hopes could have spent 2004-05 pushing for a state place rather than impressing the Australia selectors and earning a one-day tour of New Zealand. He has five Pura Cup centuries for Queensland and two one-day hundreds, but bowling was his main weapon in the domestic competition in 2005-06. He collected 15 wickets at 18.33 in the ING Cup and 16 at 22.56 in the Pura Cup, but he was unable to transfer his regular success into the international arena. Adding eight ODI appearances, he did not take more than a wicket in a match, although his batting showed promise with a top score of 43 against Sri Lanka. Hopes was dropped from the squad at the end of the VB Series and missed the tour to South Africa, but when Watson suffered a calf problem in Bangladesh he was replaced by his Queensland team-mate. Despite the late-season promotion, Hopes was cut from the national contract list and told to re-impress in interstate competition. He did that for Queensland in 2006-07, scoring 553 runs and taking 21 wickets in the Pura Cup, and capturing a season-high 20 victims and a first one-day century in the FR Cup. When another Watson injury occurred Hopes was put on World Cup standby before regaining his Cricket Australia deal.
A regular sweater in the gym, Hopes would love to be a professional golfer, but instead drives powerfully through the covers. His bowling has variety and tight final overs have regularly picked up wickets and saved runs. Hopes, who made his debut in 2001, is the Bulls' leading wicket-taker in the one-day competition and Stuart MacGill's record of 124 is under threat. He began with Queensland's Emerging Players as a 13-year-old and played in the state's under-age sides before progressing to the Australia Under-19 team - he scored 105, 71 and 51 at the 1998 Youth World Cup - and the Academy.