England Under-19s debut in 2007 ... Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year in 2008 ... Cricket Writers' Club Young Cricketer of the Year in 2009 ... Professional Cricketers' Association Young Player of the Year in 2009 – was it any surprise that James made a successful entry into the professional game?
After appearances for Shropshire and Worcestershire 2nd XI, James made his First Class debut for Leicestershire in 2008 (at the age of 18) and scored maiden centuries in both four-day and one-day cricket a year later.
The same season saw him become the youngest player for the Grace Road side to score 1,000 runs in a season, and also the youngest to register a double century after an innings of 207 not out against Surrey.
Two further double hundreds – 206* against Middlesex in 2010 and 237 against Loughborough UCCE in 2011 – provided further evidence of his ability to build huge scores when set.
The 5’5” right-hander appeared regularly for the England Lions from early 2010, captaining the team in 2011 and 2012; and between these duties he made his full ODI debut in August 2011, in a rain-affected victory over Ireland in Dublin.
James’ final season with the Foxes ended in triumph, collecting a winner’s medal in the Friends Provident Twenty20 and then gaining further international exposure with appearances in the Champions’ League in India.
James joined Nottinghamshire in December 2011; somewhat uncharacteristically his career at Trent Bridge began with a golden duck against Loughborough MCCU, but his subsequent run scoring soon met and exceeded expectations.
National recognition at a senior level was no surprise, and while he became an established one-day international his Test appearances were more intermittent. In 27 ODIs between 2011 and 2015 James hit 887 runs at an average of 42.23 with a highest score of 101 against Australia in 2015. Following his Test debut in August 2012 he made a further six appearances, scoring 312 runs at an average of 26.00.
Between 2012 and 2016 James played 60 First Class matches for Notts, hitting 3,745 runs at an average of 42.07 with a career-best County Championship score of 291 against Sussex in 2015.
A member of the Notts team that won the Yorkshire Bank 40 Final in 2013, James played 37 List A and 42 T20 matches for the Green and Golds. He was appointed Notts one-day captain in 2014, a year in which he hit a career-best List A score of 146* against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge.
In addition to the sheer number of runs that he scored – often because of skilful placement rather than power – James was renowned for his speed between the wickets and in the field, and for some sensational catches against South Africa.
In April 2016 - at the age of 26, and while playing for Notts against Cambridge University at Fenners – a serious heart condition forced James to retire from all cricket. Following treatment and the fitting of an implanted defibrillator he began a new career combining media and charity work with coaching assignments. He was appointed as a full-time England selector in July 2018.