The signs were there years ago. Now it's been exposed and we're left asking, how can we ever trust them again?

The trust is gone, perhaps for a generation. Forget for a minute the allegations against Chris Cairns, revealed yesterday as Player X, and the role he may or may not have played in this sordid affair.

New Zealand Herald cricket expert Andrew Alderson discusses Cairns named as 'player x' as a cricket scandal, trial by media, and what should happen next with this investigation.

Instead concentrate on the sheer volume of claims and counter-claims. There were games in the Indian Cricket League, in the Champions League and England's crown jewel, the previously pristine fields of county cricket.

There have been recent issues in Bangladesh and India, again.

Why did it take so long to work out something was rotten in the state of cricket? It wasn't as if there wasn't mounting evidence.

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Watch: Herald Cricket: Cairns named as 'player X'

How's this for a rogue roll call: Salim Malik, Mohammad Azharuddin, Hansie Cronje and Salman Butt. These weren't everyday players; these were captains of their national sides. Butt even organised a fix at Lord's, the Home of Cricket.

Twenty years ago I watched New Zealand beat a vastly superior Pakistan side at Lancaster Park in a canter. I knew it wasn't right, but chose to celebrate a famous win all the same.

Mystery top cricketer gives ICC statement

I'm not sure that sort of ignorance is possible any more. This is the rod the filthy few have made for the rest.

Every simple dropped catch, every inexplicable batting collapse, every inopportune wide or no-ball, it will be eyes askance and straight to Twitter.

That's depressing, and hardly fair on the vast majority who aren't motivated by greed, but it's where cricket now finds itself.

Good luck putting the cork back in this foul bottle. There is talk of throttling back the T20 obsession, but that makes no sense.

The fans have embraced it, taking money out of the players' pockets is hardly going to be a fixing deterrent and, believe me, the problem pre-dates this shortest form of the game.

At the risk of sounding draconian, what we need is genuine deterrents - beefed up legislation, life bans and an empowered and utterly independent anti-corruption unit.

But back, briefly, to Cairns. He wants the opportunity to clear his name. It is only right he is given that chance. Consider this an open invitation ...

• On December 5, Herald head of sport Dylan Cleaver broke the story about the investigation into three former NZ internationals by anti-corruption officials and UK police. His efforts were recognised at the recent Canon Awards where he was Sports Reporter of the Year and a finalist for Senior Reporter of the Year.