The 37-year-old, who also played for Yorkshire, was only released from the County Ground at the end of the last campaign after a career spanning over 220 first class matches and almost 200 one day games.
First team manager Paul Oakins said: “It’s a massive bit of business for us and with James’ experience, hopefully he can pass on a lot to our young side.”
The side are back in action this weekend when they host Oxfordshire in a 12-a-side friendly at Ampthill Town on Sunday, starting at 11am.
Ampthill’s Nick Barden is in the squad, while Ed Wharton, a former Bedford School pupil is also included too.
Bedfordshire: L Thomas, C Thurston, J Middlebrook, G Thurstance, G Hofbauer, S Johnson, N Barden, C Griggs, G Bacon, J Higgingbotham, E Wharton, A King.