It seems weird to many, but I’ve become a cricket fan. And in becoming one, I can talk with people from all over the world.(More)

Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

Recently I had reason to call tech support for my cable provider. And of course, I found myself talking to someone in India (no surprise), a man named Suresh. My question was about receiving additional cricket coverage from our provider, and while he couldn’t help me with that, we soon fell into friendly conversation.

I mentioned how much my wife and I enjoy cricket. Well, it turns out Suresh does, too, and in no time at all we were off on a discussion of the current Freedom Series that had South Africa playing India in a series of matches dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. We discussed players by name, some of their more spectacular moments. I told him how impressed I was with the warmth the Indian fans showed to the South African team and he told me that A.B. de Villiers, the South African captain, was now the hero of all India.

But as we closed out our discussion he told me, “Thank you for the smiles. You’ve made me smile for the first time today. It was a pleasure talking to you. Wishing you smiles and cricket smiles as well.”

A game, played in many parts of the world, had given us a point of contact, a way for two strangers to have a friendly conversation and get to know each other a bit. Cricket may be fun to watch, but the way it crosses cultures and national borders is priceless. I have had casual conversations even in my neighborhood with people from the Caribbean and India because of cricket. Suresh was the latest in the growing line of moments shared with people I might never have conversed with otherwise.

And as Suresh said, “It’s a gentlemanly game.” Apparently that applies to the fans as well.