CricketEurope, April 2020
"You have an hour to get us the money you owe, or I'm calling my team off the pitch and you will have to explain to the viewers what is happening," threatened Ireland XI manager Ivan Lapsley to tournament organisers in Abu Dhabi back in May 2006.
Ireland were playing India A in the EurAsia series, and in the game broadcast by Star Sports to millions across Asia, the Boys In Green were holding their own thanks to John Mooney and Kevin O'Brien.
There were nervous smiles from the committee men who thought Lapsley was bluffing. But could they afford to take the risk he wasn't?
Ireland were owed close to $50,000 and having been in the UAE for almost two weeks, had kept getting empty promises about payment.
The calls from Dublin and ICU Secretary John Wright were getting more and more pleading - such a sum was a huge chunk of the Irish budget in those days, and a number of tours and coaching positions were in serious jeopardy if the cash didn't materialize.
Coach Matt Dwyer and myself (I was assistant manager or as my shirt said on the back Ass Man!) were made aware of Lapsley's gambit, and as the minutes ticked away and Ireland's score kept going up, the tension was palpable.
Eventually, in true James Bond style, with seconds remaining two of the dodgiest and scariest blokes you could wish to see arrived pitchside with a black briefcase. They each had fingers missing, one had an eye patch, and the other a huge scar down one side of his face.
They were about to open the briefcase in full view of the cameras but saw the wisdom in our suggestion that perhaps it would be wiser to count the money away from the glares of the broadcasters.
The briefcase contained blocks of $10,000 and there must have been a million in there. Five of these blocks were tossed disdainfully in our direction, as the gruesome twosome didn't hide their contempt for being called out like this.
A relieved Lapsley broke the good news to Wright back in Dublin, who welcomed the windfall and told us to buy the guys a few beers - easier said than done in the Emirati desert.
Back on the pitch Mooney and O'Brien's sixth wicket stand added 86, but once broken saw the innings end quickly, 168 for 5 to 186 all out.
Still the innings lasted 44 overs and with India A taking 34 overs to chase it down, the organisers were more than happy at Ireland's efforts.
It should have been the senior Ireland side in action, but two delays and date changes meant they were unable to participate due to their involvement in the C&G Trophy.
The organisers were keen for an Irish side to take part despite it being an A side, but they wanted it to be called an Ireland XI in the hope of securing more viewers.
It was all very last minute with the playing shirts sourced in less than a week by Paul Ryan of Lekka Sports (who sadly died in December) - the fact that they were Barcelona away shirts with an Irish crest on them gave the ICC some concern, who banned them from subsequent matches.
That meant a change to polo shorts from Primark or Marks and Spencer for the remaining games.
The squad of 14 was a very youthful one aside from the experienced Jason Molins, who the previous year had lost the captaincy to Trent Johnston and was trying to battle his way back into Adi Birrell's plans for the 2007 World Cup the following season. He didn't have the best of tournaments on the field, but was a tremendous asset off it with his knowledge and contacts in what was a tough environment.
Our accommodation was on an island in the Arabian Gulf which meant a 30 minute boat journey. It had beach huts, but there was no bar and no alcohol allowed. The restaurant was very good but 17 days there with limited facilities (no internet) meant the natives were getting restless. It wasn't helped by the fact that the other teams had left and went to hotels, but with no money, we were stuck.
The organisers eventually staved off a mutiny by smuggling some beers on, and laid on a night of entertainment which included a belly dancer and a magician. There was also a kids zoo on the island but I don't think any of us felt it warranted a visit.
Five of the panel would make it to the West Indies - William Porterfield, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Kenny Carroll and Boyd Rankin, while Gary Wilson who was the leading scorer for the Irish just missed out.
Six others in the squad were capped at senior level -Thinus Fourie - who was detained at the airport on arrival because of a visa issue on his South African passport-, Conor Armstrong, Gary Kidd, Mark Hutchinson, Jason Molins, and Roger Whelan, while only David Simpson and Trevor Britton missed out on caps.
The side lost all four games, which wasn't surprising given the quality of the opposition, but did acquit themselves well and the experience stood them in good stead in the years ahead.