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Joe Burns: Former Australia batter honours late brother as he switches to Italy

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Former Australia batter Joe Burns has honoured his late brother after switching allegiance to Italy and trying 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 No 85 shirt for Italy, which was his brother’s in club cricket.

The 34-year-old went public about the death of his sibling in an Instagram post on Tuesday, in which he said “a part of my soul feels like it will always be missing.”

Burns, who qualifies for Italy through his mother’s heritage, wrote: “This isn’t just a number and this isn’t just a jersey. This is for the people who I know will be looking down proudly from above.

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

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

“While a part of my soul feels like it will always be missing, I know this shirt will carry on his spirit and give me strength. It’s the hours playing as kids and connection with him that taught me to love this game.”

Joe Burns Playing In Big Bash League For Brisbane Heat (Associated Press)
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Burns played Big Bash League cricket for Brisbane Heat and Melbourne Stars

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

He is now set to play for Italy in the T20 World Cup sub-regional qualifiers in Rome between June 9-16, at which his new side are grouped with France, Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey.

Burns added: “I often reflect on the bravery and commitment it must have taken 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 solace through life’s lessons.

“I’m so proud to represent Italy on our path to the 2026 World Cup.”

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