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Burns to represent Italy in tribute to late brother

Joe Burns
Joe Burns last played for Australia in the Boxing Day Test against India in 2020 [Getty Images]

Former Australia Test opener Joe Burns will represent Italy in their bid to reach the 2026 T20 World Cup in tribute to his late brother.

Burns, whose brother Dominic passed away in February this year, played 23 Tests for Australia between 2014 and 2020.

The 34-year-old has been on the books of Queensland state since 2011 but has not been offered a contract for the 2024-25 domestic season in Australia.

"This isn't just a number and this isn't just a jersey," Burns wrote on Instagram, together with a picture of an Italian team top with the number 85 on it.

"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."

Burns is eligible to represent Italy through his mother's heritage.

"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," Burns wrote on Instagram.

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

Italy have never qualified for a World Cup in any format.

They finished third in European qualifying to miss out on a spot at the 2024 T20 World Cup, which begins on 1 June in the United States and the Caribbean.

"I’m so proud to represent Italy on our path to the 2026 World Cup," Burns added.

"The fields of Rome may be a long way from the Gabba, MCG or our front yard growing up, but I feel like I’m coming home."

Burns, who spent time playing County cricket for Leicestershire, Middlesex, Glamorgan and Lancashire, will attempt to help Italy qualify for the 2026 edition.

Italy's qualifying campaign for the competition in India and Sri Lanka starts at a sub-regional tournament in Rome next month.