Aussie cricketer to play for Italy at World Cup

Australia Nets Session
Joe Burns is going to play for Italy. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Former Test opener Joe Burns will attempt to help Italy qualify for the 2026 T20 World Cup in honour of his late brother and grandparents.

Burns, who chalked up four centuries in 23 Test matches for Australia, wasn’t offered a Queensland contract for the 2024-25 season and his Big Bash deal with the Melbourne Stars also ended.

Following the death of his brother Dominic in February, Burns has decided to represent Italy, which he’s able to do via his mother’s heritage.

His Italian jersey will don the number 85 as tribute to Dominic and in an emotional Instagram post the 34-year-old outlined his desire to honour his family’s Italian legacy.

“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,” 34-year-old Burns wrote on Instagram.

“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.

2nd Test - Canberra
Joe Burns made four Test centuries for Australia. Canberra. Picture. Phil Hillyard

“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.

“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. 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.”

Italy’s qualifying road to the 2026 World Cup qualifiers starts in Rome next month with matches against France, Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey.