Zimbabwe's 15 rebel Test players have said that if they are not granted arbitration by Friday then they will tear up their contracts. The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has refused the rebels' demands, and it has imposed a Friday deadline for them to fall into line or be sacked.

"It feels as if we're reaching the end, unfortunately and sadly," one of them told The Guardian. "We've all got families and lives to get on with and we feel we've tried our level best to negotiate in the last few weeks. But we're just not going anywhere, so we need to sort our futures out. We're sick and tired of this."

Only three of the players have guaranteed work for the summer. Heath Streak is set to join Warwickshire, Grant Flower has signed with Lashings - a Kent-based celebrity side - and Trevor Gripper is playing for Cranleigh in Surrey. Without central contracts, the remaining 12 have no income from cricket, although as most are effectively part-timers with other jobs, it's not as serious as it might first seem.

The rebels met with their lawyer on Wednesday and drafted a letter to the board outlining their position. "We still want them to go to arbitration but you can only ask so many times," the source told the newspaper. "We're just beating around the bush now and we can't go on like this."

One seasoned local observer told Wisden Cricinfo: "We can now effectively announce the death of Zimbabwe cricket. Barring miracles, this is the end of things, and the players won't be back now."