Graeme Smith, South Africa's new captain, has launched a remarkable verbal attack on Lance Klusener, describing him as a disruptive influence on the side.

Last week, Klusener was left out of the South African squad for the forthcoming tour of England and also not awarded a central contract. When asked about the reasons behind the decision at a business breakfast in Cape Town, Smith did not hold back. "We decided Lance as a team man can only cause hassles and we want to move forward in SA cricket," Smith said. "To be honest Lance, as fantastic as he is, can sometimes ruin a team.

"His ability as a cricketer is very good, but his ability as a team man is not very good and he kind of can infect a team and bring down the youth."

Klusener expressed surprise at Smith's remarks, saying that the only official comment he had received came from Omar Henry, the chairman of selectors, who had told him the reason for his omission was the need to bring in new blood. "It's becoming a joke," Klusener told South Africa's Star newspaper. "Does anyone really know what's going on out there? For the current captain, who's played a couple of games with me, to come out with the so-called real reason at a cricketing breakfast is almost laughable. What's really disturbing is that, whatever the reason for my being dropped, no one in authority has made any effort to sort it out."