Burns switches allegiance to Italy to honour late brother in bid for T20 World Cup

MELBOURNE: Former Australia Test opener Joe Burns has made the surprising decision to switch allegiance to Italy, aiming to help the European nation qualify for the 2026 T20 World Cup. Burns, who played 23 Tests for Australia between 2014 and 2020, was recently left off Queensland’s contracts list for the upcoming domestic season. His move to Italy comes in the wake of a deeply personal tragedy: the death of his brother in February.

Burns shared his grief and his new cricketing journey in an emotional social media post, featuring a picture of a blue Italy shirt emblazoned with the number 85, the same number his brother wore at his amateur cricket club in Queensland. “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,” Burns wrote.

Reflecting on his Italian heritage, Burns drew inspiration from his grandparents’ bravery in emigrating from Italy to Australia. “They found a way to make it work through adversity and this has always given me solace through life’s lessons,” he noted. Embracing his roots, he expressed pride in representing Italy on their path to the 2026 World Cup, adding, “I’m so proud to represent Italy on our path to the 2026 World Cup.”

Italy has yet to appear in a World Cup in any format. They narrowly missed qualifying for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean, finishing third in the European qualifiers. Scotland and Ireland secured the top two spots, booking their places in the 20-team tournament. Italy will have another chance to qualify at a sub-regional tournament in Rome next month as part of the qualification process for the 2026 T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.

For Burns, this move is more than just a career change; it’s a homecoming of sorts. “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,” he said. Burns’ heartfelt tribute to his brother and his embrace of his heritage could provide the inspiration Italy needs to achieve their World Cup dreams.

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