It was Kenya re-visited as the territory first qualified into the quarter-finals, and then failed to make any headway once there. Hong Kong cricket can gleefully celebrate the fact that the territory once again finished in the last eight of the ICC Trophy. Not bad for a bunch of weekend cricketers. But while the team did play out of their skins, it must also be remembered that they threw away the chance of entering ICC folklore and the opportunity of playing at the 1999 World Cup. Everyone there that morning, before the crucial Hong Kong v Ireland game began, would not have scoffed at the territory's chance of entering the semi-finals. The team were so keyed up and all the players believed that they could beat the Irish. And they played that way. After an early stutter, when the Irish batsmen took 52 runs off the first 10 overs, Hong Kong fought back remarkably, keeping their composure in the next 35 overs to have Ireland on 175 for six. With only five overs to go, everything was rosy and it looked as if Hong Kong would be chasing a score of around 200. But then the bowling conceded 48 runs, and with that, the task took on herculean proportions. Psychologically, the game was in Ireland's court. And the Hong Kong batting, which never really sparkled, did the rest. So while all credit goes to Hong Kong for finishing in the last eight again, this ICC Trophy will always be remembered as the one that got away. Why did this happen? Was it because skipper Pat Fordham miscalculated and did not bowl his best two bowlers - Mohammed Zubair and Stewart Brew - at the death; was it because Hong Kong's bowlers lacked the experience to stay cool under pressure; or was it the poor batting? These points all have merit. It was a combination of all three factors and the presence of an Irishman called Angus Dunlop, who whacked 54 runs in 61 balls. Fordham, who had captained superbly, perhaps slipped up slightly when he failed to see that Brew and Zubair bowled all of the final five overs. In Fordham's defence, they did bowl - three - and did get hammered, conceding 27 runs between them. Munir Hussain and David Jones, the other two used, gave away 19 runs. But it was these two who bowled the 46th and 47th overs. When the batsmen are in a slogging mood, why make it easier? When Zubair and Brew were recalled, the batsmen were in a killer mood. Of the 19 runs Zubair conceded in his two overs, six were wides, a four and two wide balls. But he bowled Dunlop and then conceded one run in his last four deliveries. There is no better bowler than Brew when the pressure is on. He was hit for a six of a full toss down the leg side. The next five balls gave away two runs. As for the batting, the territory failed miserably. Only Riaz Farcy finished with his reputation intact. At the end of the quarter-final round, Farcy was in second place in the whole tournament, and behind Kenya's classy Maurice Odumbe, in the run stakes. His ability to play his strokes right from the first ball saw him finish with a high strike rate and also atop the local averages. He had a superb tournament with the ball, too. It was a pity that his fitness was not up to par. Brew and Hong Kong's other master batsman, Rahul Sharma, failed to find their touch. Sharma initially looked in good nick when he won the Man-of-the-Match award for a well-compiled 69 against Bermuda. That innings, and a blistering 65 from Farcy, saw Hong Kong win this crucial game to pave their way into the quarter-finals. But once there, the Hong Kong batting failed to rise to the challenge of going a notch higher. What was needed was for the top order to shine and the others to chip in. What happened was everyone was chipping in, there were no substantial scores. Of the younger players, Kamran Raza will have learned a great deal. His batting was a failure, but his bowling at times looked good, although he lacked consistency. Alex French and Roy Lamsam must have learned a lot just sitting there and listening to coach David Trist expound his views. All in all, Hong Kong achieved a commendable result. But the players will always have regrets and think back to what might have been.