Cricket-Former Australia opener Burns to represent Italy in tribute to late brother

  • Cricket
  • Tuesday, 28 May 2024

FILE PHOTO: Cricket - South Africa v Australia - Fourth Test - Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - April 2, 2018 Australia's Joe Burns REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Australia test opener Joe Burns has switched allegiance to Italy in a bid to help the Europeans qualify for the 2026 T20 World Cup as a tribute to his late brother.

Burns, who played 23 tests from 2014-20, was left out of Queensland state's contracts list for the coming domestic season in Australia and has been mourning his brother's death in February.

Burns wrote about his grief in a social media post with a picture of a blue Italy shirt with the number 85 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," said Burns.

"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."

Italy, who have never played at a World Cup in any format, finished third in European qualifying to miss out on the coming T20 World Cup in the United States and the Caribbean.

Europe's top two finishers Scotland and Ireland booked their places in the 20-team tournament, which starts on Saturday.

Italy will try again at a sub-regional tournament in Rome next month as part of the qualifying phase for the 2026 T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka.

"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," said Burns.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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