Joe Burns honouring late brother as he makes Italy move

Former Australia batter Joe Burns has revealed a tribute to his brother who passed away earlier this year as he embarks on a new chapter to his career by playing for Italy.

Burns, 34, was dropped by Queensland last season and did not earn a place on their 2024-25 contract list. In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Burns went public about the death of his brother, which occurred in February, alongside an image of his Italy shirt bearing the number 85 which was his brother’s in club cricket.

“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,” he wrote.

“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.”

Burns qualifies for Italy through his mother’s heritage and is now set to feature in the sub regional qualifiers as part of the pathway to the 2026 Men’s T20 World Cup. Italy are grouped with France, Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey in group one with matches to take place between June 9-16 in Rome.

“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,” he wrote. “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.”

Burns was averaging 37.16 in the Sheffield Shield when he was dropped by Queensland – in what overall was a challenging season for batters – but is now without any professional deals in Australia with his Melbourne Stars contract having also expired.

In 23 Tests he made four centuries, averaging 36.97, with his last appearance coming against India in late 2020.

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