Deccan Chargers captain Adam Gilchrist has said he would have picked team-mate Andrew Symonds in Australia's Ashes squad on the strength of his performance in the second IPL season. Symonds didn't make the Ashes cut but played a huge role in Deccan winning the tournament.
With Deccan clinching the title on Sunday following their six-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final in Johannesburg, Gilchrist had spoken of how Symonds played a key role in the team's success. Symonds took the wickets of Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli with successive balls to effectively end Bangalore's chances.
"He [Symonds] would be in my [Ashes] team," Gilchrist said. "Ever since I've played with Andrew Symonds he's been a real team man. You saw a glimpse of that last year when he only played four games - the respect he had from the Indian players and international players alike. He became an instant favourite in the squad. He's a great personality and a wonderful talent on the cricket field who can turn matches."
Gilchrist also had words of praise for VVS Laxman, from whom he took over as captain after the team finished bottom of the league last season. "Although we made changes in the coaches and the captain, everyone in the squad bought into it, including VVS," Gilchrist said. "He went through a lot emotionally. The captaincy was taken away from him and he only played five games, then the selectors decided we didn't need him."
Laxman remained a good team man despite being dropped, Gilchrist said. "He continued to contribute around the group with his experience and his vast knowledge. He wants to learn to be a better Twenty20 player. That's a wonderful example to young players to see a player at his age wanting to evolve into a better player."
Gilchrist said Laxman even worked with the team's coaches to improve his Twenty20 skills. "It's not just the young kids who are learning all the time, it applies to all of us. VVS epitomises what this franchise is all about."
Gilchrist attributed the team's turnaround to several factors, including emphasising to the players to "make sure every ball is the most important thing in their life at that moment". He said the team's owners had also played a role by agreeing to his requests for some changes in personnel.
"The main one was [coach] Darren Lehmann, who has a wonderful cricket brain." Gilchrist also brought Australian fielding coach Mike Young and fitness trainer Steve Smith on board.