Helmuth von Moltke was a Field Marshall and brilliant war strategist in the 19th Century. He first coined the term "no plan survives contact with the enemy". He was absolutely right and his ideas are still used in war planning.
It's just the same in cricket as it is in war. No matter how much you plan, theorise and try to stick to a strategy, the game always takes it's on direction and momentum.
Which begs the question; why bother to plan at all?
All this clever talk of dossiers, analysts and the like are surely a waste of time. Just play the game and adapt as you go: A very civilised version of warfare.
It's not that simple.
And to find out why we need to return to Helmuth von Moltke.
The German was also one of the most meticulous planners in military history.
Rather than ignore the need for planning, he felt that planning and practice was crucial to learn how to react in any given situation. As you can imagine, in war, there are a lot of possibilities.
I'm sure that if he was a 21st Century cricket coach he would be just as thorough in his planning and analysis. Even if he was just coaching a local under 13 team.
Planning without a plan
So what would a von Moltke coaching method look like?
The key is to have a team of players who are trained to be adaptable while sticking to the goal. That means the plan might adjust as the game goes on, but the goal remains the same.
For example, an opening batsman may go in instructed to set a platform for his team with low risk shots early on. He may notice that the opening bowler is nervous and open to exploitation so he plays a death shot the second ball of the first over, sending it sailing over midwicket for six.
AN inflexible player would miss that chance. A player without the confidence to take a calculated risk would have pushed back the good length ball.
Of course, that chance was not left to fate. The batsman has practised hitting length balls. He knew how hard to hit the ball to reach the boundary. He knew the captain and coach were open to a calculated risk. It was a decision taken in the moment but was days, weeks and months in the planning.
Learn from your mistakes
The above is an example of instant decision-making working in your favour. However, there is also failure. That means you need to learn by reviewing your ideas post-match.
Say our batsman had misread the bowler and that shot had gone straight to the keeper. Criticism would have been levelled at his actions.
That's why it's important to quietly revise all these decisions in the light of the team goals. Was it the best idea? If not, what else could we have tried first? What different circumstances could the plan have worked?
Look at both the good and bad decisions made by everyone and try to repeat good plans while avoiding the bad ones.
So yes, the planning process is a pain and can seem pointless when your best laid plan is thrown out when you are 47-4. But situations like that make it all the more important to plan and be confident in yourself and the rest of your team.
It's a simple, effective way to deal with the chaos of contact with the enemy.