Australian cricketer Joe Burns has officially decided he will represent Italy moving forward.

The former Australian representative, who opened the batting at the highest level for his home country, wasn't offered a domestic contract with Queensland for the 2024-25 season.

The 34-year-old has now decided to represent Italy in a bid to have the nation qualify for the 2026 T20 World Cup.

Taking to Instagram, Burns revealed the decision has been driven by the heartache of his brother's death.

"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," Burns 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.

"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."

Burns still had a strong campaign in the most recent Sheffield Shield, scoring 446 runs, but Queensland Cricket are keen to rebuild the side and elected to move on from the veteran of 23 Tests and 6 ODIs.

Burns, who has Italian heritage on his mother's side, also has no BBL contract for the coming summer.

The Italian team with Burns will commence their qualification journey during a tournament in Rome during June against France, the Isle of Man, Luxembourg and Turkey (in Group A) as well as Austria, Hungary, Israel, Portugal and Romania (in Group B) with the two group winners to then face off for a spot in the regional final where they will face winners from other sub-regional tournaments.

The 2026 World Cup will be hosted in India and Sri Lanka.