James Hopes says this could be his last Sheffield Shield season.
James Hopes says this could be his last Sheffield Shield season. Mark Metcalfe getty Images

Hopes high for success in last hurrah

CHAMPION Queensland all-rounder James Hopes is about to play his 100th first class game, but admits there is a "99% chance" this will be his last Sheffield Shield season.

Hopes also revealed his one-day career ended with the recent Matador Cup one-day series, taken out by New South Wales.

The 37-year-old could be in for a tough season, with the veteran admitting 2015/16 would be about rebuilding.

The Bulls open their Shield campaign against Victoria at the MCG tomorrow, with the squad including all-rounder Jack Wildermuth (22), paceman Mark Steketee (21) and batsman Marnus Labuschagne (21), who all made their Shield debuts last season.

The Queenslanders are also likely to be without captain Usman Khawaja for most of this summer's Shield, with the 28-year-old expected to bat at No.3 for Australia in the coming three-Test series against New Zealand.

Star batsman Chris Lynn is also sidelined with a shoulder injury, while the experienced Peter Forrest was left out for the day-night pink ball game against the Bushrangers.

That's without mentioning the retirement of paceman Ryan Harris.

But Hopes said he was still confident his teammates could put the disappointment of last season's fourth-place finish - which led to former coach Stuart Law being sacked - behind them.

"It will be a bit of a rebuilding season. What's important is that we get off to a good start because before Christmas we've only got one game at the Gabba," Hopes told APN.

"We've lost Ryan Harris, so there are going to be some hard yards for our younger players, especially our bowling attack.

"I'm not saying we can't win it, but we need to get off to a good start."

The former skipper said he had some fond memories playing for his beloved state in the 50-over format.

"Beating Victoria (in the 2013 Ryobi Cup final by two runs) and winning the 2014 Matador Cup in the first year of the tournament format - when we really thought that would suit us - are some highlights for me," he said.

Hopes has always been a team man, but he said notching up his 100th first-class game against Victoria would be a special occasion.

"I'm proud of the fact all my games have been for Queensland (96) or Australia A (three)," he said.

"I didn't play County cricket because I always wanted to be fit to represent my state or country."

Hopes also said playing a Shield game under lights with a pink ball at the MCG would take some getting used to.

"We know the ball swings at the Gabba and Perth under lights, but it'll be a new experience at the MCG where there's no swing and seam," he said.

"The players can adapt, but I just hope the fans can see the ball after 70 overs."

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