'Ex-captain is still there' - Hesson explains difficulty behind making Faf du Plessis RCB skipper

The RCB director of cricket threw light on the process used to identify Virat Kohli's capable replacement after he stepped down from captaincy after IPL 2021. 
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Virat Kohli's surprising return to the captaincy post has brought leadership into discussions with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL 2023, where the team's original contemporary skipper Faf du Plessis has played the team's last chunk of games as an 'Impact Player' only. 

With Du Plessis recovering from an injury but in such great form that he could not be left on the bench, RCB have played their cards smartly and used the tactical substitution ploy to their advantage in ensuring the South African can retain his explosive ways at the top without worsening his injury through fielding rigours. 

The scenario has given Kohli, who formally gave up RCB captaincy after the 2021 season, an unexpected chance to regain the leadership badge, even though the on-field decisions for the side presumably lie still with Du Plessis. 

Among the leading men to supervise this move has been the team's renowned former coach and current director of cricket, Mike Hesson, who threw light on the process used two seasons back in determining Virat Kohli's adequate replacement at the top job. 

Hesson explains how RCB identified Du Plessis as Kohli's replacement 

Speaking in an interview with ESPNcricinfo as RCB approach their next IPL 2023 league stage fixture on Monday (May 1) at home versus the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), Hesson revealed how the popular franchise finalised Du Plessis in his debut year with the franchise as captain, stating it wasn't easy to identify someone who can replace the towering presence of Virat Kohli. 

"Virat's a very hard man to replace - and to be captain when your ex-captain is still there is incredibly difficult. You've got to be quite a strong character and really have the changing room [on your side]. You can't be a developing captain. We thought we had to have an established captain with a lot of those core experiences," Hesson said. 

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The RCB director said the process of arriving at Du Plessis' name wasn't an easy one, especially as the player is entering deeper into his thirties and hasn't been an active international player since the 2019 World Cup in the UK. 

Hesson stressed, however, that age was never really in consideration and the focus was mainly on asserting how best Du Plessis can fit into a side that was transitioning post AB de Villiers' retirement. 

"We'd spent a lot of time looking at all the gaps that we had in our squad. We looked at Indian players as well, and we went pretty hard for one or two. We settled relatively late on Faf, but we thought he ticked a lot of our boxes: he was highly experienced and still a high-quality player."

"We never knew at that time whether we'd be able to get a full three-year cycle out of somebody at that age [37, at the time of the mega auction], but the fact that he's incredibly fit gave us a lot more confidence," Hesson said, adding that Du Plessis' great repute with Kohli was another important consideration. 

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