Gilchrist would have Symonds in his Ashes team

JOHANNESBURG: Victorious Deccan Chargers captain Adam Gilchrist said Monday he was surprised star all-rounder Andrew Symonds was not in the Australia Ashes squad.

Reflecting on his team?s six-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League final Sunday, Gilchrist said Symonds had been a key player, not least when he took the wickets of Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli with successive balls to halt what seemed a Bangalore cruise to the title.

"He?d be in my team," said Gilchrist, who gave Symonds a glowing testimonial at odds with the player?s "bad boy" reputation that cost him a place in the Australian squad against South Africa last season.

"Ever since I?ve played with Andrew Symonds he?s been a real team man," said Gilchrist.

"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, the Indian Test star who was deposed as Deccan captain after the team finished bottom of the log last season.

"Although we made changes in the coaches and the captain, everyone in the squad bought into it, including VVS. 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."

Gilchrist said Laxman had remained a good team man despite being dropped.

"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."

According to Gilchrist, Laxman worked with the team?s coaches to improve his 20-over 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 said the team?s turnaround had been due to several factors, including emphasising to the players to "make sure every ball is the most important thing in their life at that moment".

Adding strike bowlers had provided back-up for RP Singh, the tournament?s leading wicket-taker, with first West Indian Fidel Edwards, then Australian Ryan Harris contributing to the bowling firepower.

Gilchrist said the team?s owners had 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."

He also brought Australian fielding coach Mike Young and fitness trainer Steve Smith on board.

Gilchrist, who has retired from cricket except the IPL, said he looking forward to watching the World Twenty20 in England next month.

"The players who have been here for the IPL will have an advantage - as long as they get a chance to freshen up and have some time off before playing in another tournament."