Cape Town - Unlike 16 years ago, a letter from Nelson Mandela will not be the saving grace for the West Indies cricket tour to South African later this year.
The West Indies are scheduled to play three Tests, three T20 Internationals and five ODIs on their tour of South Africa ending on January 28 - just over two weeks before the Cricket World Cup begins in Australia and New Zealand.
However, doubts remain whether tour will go ahead as planned as the Windies players are currently embroiled in a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over compensation.
The dispute caused the players to pull out of the fifth and final ODI against hosts India earlier this month, which saw the remaining ODI, one T20 International (T20I) and the three Test series cancelled.
Legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara admitted that the administration of West Indies cricket is at an all-time low.
"I don't know all the finer details, but I know it's a matter of principle for the players. They are standing by their rights to receive compensation. The administration of West Indies cricket is at a low and the cricket bosses will have to take a long hard look at themselves," Lara told Beeld.
Lara also revealed how the Windies tour to South Africa in 1998/99 was also almost called off, but it was a letter from former president Nelson Mandela which saved the tour.
Then SA cricket boss Ali Bacher flew to London to hold discussions with the Windies.
"My trump card was a letter from president Nelson Mandela. In his own handwriting, he requested the Windies to go ahead with the tour. I couldn't refuse when Ali gave me that letter and we decided to go ahead with the tour," said Lara.
The 45-year-old Lara scored 11 953 Test runs at an average of 52.88. He also holds the record for the highest score ever in Test cricket when he scored 400 not out, achieved against England at Antigua in 2004.
He also holds the record for the highest individual score in first-class cricket, with 501 not out for Warwickshire against Durham at Edgbaston in 1994, which is the only quintuple hundred in first-class cricket history.