Ahead of Friday's second One-Day International against Pakistan, South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith returned to his old school to deliver a speech.
His visit to to King Edward VII School in Johannesburg came soon after a tragic incident in which nine young cricketers were struck by lightning while putting covers on the pitch during a first-team game.
"I’ve been to many press conferences, functions and opened the batting but I didn’t think I would be this nervous," Smith said
"It's been great coming back to the place that formed and moulded me into the individual I am today.
"Hopefully my talk today will motivate and inspire the boys after the traumatising ordeal last month, and more importantly bring the school closer together as they try to move forward positively."
Smith addressed the school assembly and then paid a visit to Mpetho Bidli, one of the schoolboys who was struck, in hospital. Bidli, 17, is a wicket-keeper and Smith said he found the visit a humbling experience.
"I hope my visit today can instil some fighting resilience into Bidli during this difficult period for him," Smith said.
"From what I hear he has been incredibly brave and has improved quite a lot in the last couple of weeks so that is very encouraging. He seems like a very motivated young man with a bright future ahead of him, its humbling for me to see how positive and determined he is."
Paying tribute to Smith for taking the time to visit the school, Principal David Lovatt said: "It's always a gratifying and humbling experience when Old Boys visit the school; that is the foundation that this school’s culture is based on. The victims of the lightning accident were all budding cricketers so it makes it extra special that the support is coming from one of South Africa’s greatest cricketers.
"His message at assembly will no doubt encourage and spur our pupils on; we thank Graeme for taking the time out to make this mark at our school. We welcome any support we can get for Bidli as the school and his family try to offer him the best rehabilitation possible."
Smith will now rejoin the Proteas as they continue their preparations for the second ODI, which takes place at Centurion Park.
© Cricket World 2013
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