Joe Burns: Former Australia batsman pays tribute to late brother as he moves to Italy ahead of 2026 T20 World Cup | cricket news

Former Australian batsman Joe Burns has honored his late brother after switching allegiance to Italy and attempting to help the Europeans qualify for the 2026 T20 World Cup.

Burns, who played 23 Tests and six one-day internationals for Australia between 2014 and 2020, will wear the number 85 shirt for Italy, which was his brother’s in club cricket.

The 34-year-old made his brother’s death public in an Instagram post on Tuesday, in which he said, “I feel like a part of my soul will always be missing.”

Burns, who qualifies for Italy thanks to his mother’s heritage, wrote: “This is not just a number and it is not just a jersey. This is for the people I know who will look down with pride from above.

“In February of this year my brother sadly passed away. 85 was his number in the last team he played for (and his year of birth) for the powerful Northern Federals in the sub-districts.

“The days, weeks and months since my brother’s death have been the hardest I could ever imagine. I am not too proud to admit that it has been a daily battle that I often lose.

“While I feel like a part of my soul will always be missing, I know this jersey will carry on his spirit and give me strength. It was the hours playing as a child and the connection with him that taught me to love this game.”

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Burns played cricket in the Big Bash League for Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars

Burns was dropped by Australian state team Queensland last season and did not receive a contract for the following campaign, while his Big Bash contract with Melbourne Stars also expired.

He will now play for Italy in the sub-regional qualifiers for the T20 World Cup in Rome between June 9 and 16, in which his new team will be grouped with France, Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey.

Burns added: “I often reflect on the bravery and commitment it must have taken for my grandparents when they left Italy to start a new life in Australia.

“They found a way to make it work through adversity and this has always given me comfort through life’s lessons.

“I am very proud to represent Italy on our path to the 2026 World Cup.”

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