West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has welcomed the large number of visiting England fans in Antigua, sensing that his players thrive off the excitement.
As many as 5,000 supporters are believed to have made the trip, with fans eager to follow the team after two years of Covid travel restrictions.
Those numbers will spike even further in Barbados, where the Kensington Oval often starts to feel like an away venue for the Windies, but Brathwaite is more than happy to welcome a bumper crowd.
Massed ranks of England flags on the grass banks have not helped the tourists much over the years, with just one series win on these shores in the last 53 years.
“We’re really looking forward to it, we always look forward to this series,” he said.
“It means a lot, obviously the Barmy Army comes down and gives you a nice atmosphere and we look forward to the challenge.
“This series itself is always different to every other series we have. This series always has a lot of energy and at times that can inspire guys. You know, I think at home we’re generally good.
“As a team we’re ready and we know what we can do. The stats are there and the record shows we do well throughout history, but we’ve still got to look ahead.”
Brathwaite’s predecessor Jason Holder was able to carry the proud tradition on, sealing a 2-1 win over England when they last visited in 2019. He has since passed on the reins, leaving him to focus on his own all-rounder’s battle with Ben Stokes.
Holder has been a thorn in England’s side previously – averaging 62.83 with the bat and 24.93 with the ball in five home games against them – and is being backed to rise to the occasion again.
“Jason looks forward to each challenge and obviously Stokesy is a world class all-rounder,” said Brathwaite.
“Those two guys will possibly be at it, but Jason is a quality cricketer and I guarantee he’ll continue to show that for us. At times it can be motivating, because those guys are world class both with the bat and the ball and then sometimes in the field, you know, doing something special too.
“So for us it inspires us and we always look forward to seeing it to be honest.”