Defending a reputation is hard work - ask Chris Cairns and Pat Lam. Cairns is in court in London this week, appearing at an action he brought against former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi for an alleged libel on Twitter, involving accusations of match-fixing.
Yet it has appeared that it is Cairns, not Modi, who is on trial.
He came in for vigorous examination from Modi's lawyer, Ronald Thwaites QC, sparking repeated and sometimes angry denials of various allegations, with Cairns saying: "My answer is I am not a cheat. Sir, I am not a cheat." Cairns' wife Melanie Croser was teary-eyed in the witness box as she outlined "the most horrible question I have ever had to ask" when she asked her husband if he had been involved in match-fixing. He answered "absolutely not", she said.
Cairns' court action is a key one. It involves social media. Part of Modi's defence is that it was read by only 35 people; Cairns' connections claim 95.
What is known is that it was picked up by cricket website Cricinfo with whom Cairns has settled out of court damages for an undisclosed sum.
Rumours of alleged match-fixing also circulated in the Indian media following Cairns' suspension from the rebel ICL league in October 2008 along with his Chandigarh Lions team-mate Dinesh Mongia.
From what has been said in court, before Modi's tweet, the Cairns legal strategy was to ignore or shut down match-fixing rumours; what his then lawyer described as "low-level, unspecified tittle-tattle" found online.
However, it was a different story when the head of the IPL went public with his tweet, explaining why Cairns was not eligible for a potential playing berth in that league.
Cairns has had to endure questioning following a line that his departure from the ICL was dressed up as an ankle injury - sustained in a charity walk - to avoid any inquiries regarding match-fixing.
Cairns, captain of the Chandigarh Lions, was officially suspended from the ICL for not declaring his state of fitness.
Cairns told Thwaites under questioning in court that he was "offended" by suggestions the ankle injury had been fabricated.
There seems more to come. Modi's defence has been that of justification; that his allegation was true. He has signalled he will call on six Indian players who say Cairns was involved in match-fixing. Howard Beer, a former Melbourne police officer who worked as an anti-corruption officer at the ICL, told the court the "overall context" of the evidence he gathered pointed to Cairns being involved in fixing matches but also said he had concluded there was not sufficient evidence to accuse him, Cricinfo reported.
Beer recalled telling Cairns' New Zealand team-mate, Hamish Marshall, who also played in the ICL, it was "no secret Cairns had been sent home for match-fixing".
Beer said the October 2008 meeting at the Shangri La hotel, where Cairns' contract was cancelled, involved a conversation between Cairns and the then ICL executive director, former England captain Tony Greig, about corruption allegations.
In the meeting, Greig allegedly compared Cairns to disgraced former South African Hansie Cronje, who was banned from the sport in 2000.
"Don't take this the wrong way, Cairnsy, but nobody would have thought that Hansie Cronje was involved in match-fixing," Greig allegedly said to Cairns, Beer told the court.
So it is not a clear-cut business springing to one's own defence. Sportspeople round the world will be watching this case, not just because it calls into question the previously innocent aura of Twitter and the knowledge that a post could bring severe consequences - but also to see what toll it takes of Cairns.
Bringing such an action opens a door on a player's life, his team-mates, his friends and family. Not all sportspeople similarly accused may want to open that door, even to defend themselves from baseless allegations. There clearly is a price to pay.
LAM FACES a different court - the court of public opinion. The Blues' poor start to the season may have been put right if they got past the Bulls early this morning in South Africa but Lam's reputation has taken a beating after the first-half surrender to the Chiefs last week.
A few years ago, it was not difficult to think of Lam as a future contender for New Zealand's first Pacific Island All Black coach. He is an intelligent, eloquent man and a fine player in his day. But his stewardship of the Blues has not brought results. There are three main strings to a coach's bow: selection, strategy/tactics and man management.
Every coach and team make mistakes in the first two but it is the third element where he is seen to be struggling most. To a certain extent, he is a victim of circumstance. It's not his fault a higher power decreed it was all right for Ma'a Nonu to start the season late; that Tony Woodcock played a contractural card allowing him to miss the beginning of the season; that the Blues are clearly missing departed players such as Jared Payne, John Afoa and Stephen Brett; that many World Cup All Blacks (in most franchises) are not yet playing near their best.
But there is a clear argument that he has not solved the Blues' biggest issue - the lack of a class No 10 (see Gregor Paul stories, p72-73) - and allowing Piri Weepu to turn up unfit and unready for the rigours of Super Rugby looks, to outsiders, too soft and forgiving.
Man management is one thing. Being managed from below, or the perception of same, is another.
Many see the Weepu and Woodcock issues as typical of a culture nowhere near as hard-headed as the Crusaders or even the currently in-form Highlanders.
The clear feeling of many fans is that, under Lam's rule, there has somehow grown up an acceptance that not quite good enough is ... good enough.
Lam was forced to deny rumours he is due to head for Bath as his next job and he will need to win in South Africa or mount a big late-season surge to make the finals, let alone win the competition.
He may retrieve the situation, though most are betting against it (American gridiron super-coach Vince Lombardi's warning comes to mind: "Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.") Cairns, too, may win his case against Modi. But, whatever happens, both may emerge from the experience sorely bruised.By Paul Lewis Email Paul