Darren Bravo is sporting several painful-looking bruises.

There's one on his ribs, one on his forearm and one - which we'll have to take his word for - on his inner thigh. All courtesy of England's seamers and a spiteful Antigua pitch that offered horribly variable bounce. They look uncomfortable.

But most of all he's sporting a big, broad smile.

Because Bravo is back where he belongs: in the West Indies side and playing Test cricket. And he's playing it well.

Maybe, in time, Shai Hope - who Bravo calls a "special player" - or Shimron Hetmyer - who he calls "Hetty" - will develop into the world-class batsmen West Indies require to complement a fine seam attack. They certainly have the ability.

But West Indies have sorely missed a player of Bravo's experience in the middle-order. And it is not coincidence that his return has coincided with their biggest series win in almost seven years. His epic innings - all 342 minutes of it; the longest half-century (in terms of minutes) in Test history by a West Indies' player - put the Antigua Test, and as a result the series, beyond England. It was a masterclass in denial, discipline and bravery in tough circumstances.

What made it more remarkable is that Bravo has spent the last couple of years earning his living as a T20 specialist. But, after just one first-class game, he was recalled to the Test side - "I thought I wanted a bit more time to play the longer format before coming back," he says, "but the selectors asked me and I was willing" - ahead of the game in Barbados and responded with what might be called an old-fashioned Test innings in Antigua. The sort of innings, dare we say, that Geoff Boycott might have been proud to play.

Bravo admits he has never played an innings like it.

"My goal was just to be there as long as possible for the team," he tells ESPNcricinfo. "I didn't know how long I'd batted. But I felt it physically after the day's play.

"The captain asked for someone to take responsibility and bat for the team and I decided to do that. I'm one of the most experienced players. I thought if I was there so long, it would give our bowlers some time to rest and get as big a lead as possible."

And break England?

"That was the key," he says with a smile. "Broady was getting frustrated. Stokesy was getting frustrated. But it's all part and parcel of the game. They bowled very well. They don't bowl many bad balls. Anderson doesn't bowl ANY bad balls. It was tough.

"But while I was there, the other batsmen could come in and play their natural game. Hetty and Shane Dowrich made useful runs. Those partnerships meant a lot in the context of the game. It was what the team needed and I'm happy to contribute to a win."

It was noticeable how different Bravo's approach was to the England batsmen. While he refused to be drawn into any aggressive strokes, they chased and flashed at balls. And that, Bravo believes, is because they let the wicket spook them. And, perhaps, because they didn't trust their defensive games.

"They were too negative as far as the wicket was concerned," he says. "They played the wicket rather than the ball.

"I tried to stay as positive as possible. I knew it wasn't the best wicket: some balls went up; some went down. But I didn't allow the wicket to get the better of me. If I had I probably would have been out or given away my wicket much earlier. I backed my defence. I mentioned in the team room that we have to back our defence as much as possible when times get tough.

"The situation has to dictate the way you play. But if you look at the India team, that's the role played by Cheteshwar Pujara and the other guys express themselves around him. That was my role here."

The good news, for lovers of Caribbean cricket at least, is that Bravo is back for good.

"My goal as a kid was to play 100 Tests," he says. "And it was my goal when I made my debut. It's still my goal. I don't think anything can replace that, actually. I'm on 51 now, so I've a few more to go. Hopefully I can play for another five years and achieve that. Test cricket is most definitely the best test of a player.

"This - playing for West Indies - is my main focus. I'm available for all three formats and I'm happy to be back."

It was made pretty clear ahead of this interview that Bravo would be unwilling to discuss his relationship with Dave Cameron, the CWI president, who Bravo infamously called a "big idiot" on Twitter. It led, directly or indirectly, to his absence from Test cricket for more than two years. And he sure is reluctant to talk about it. Asking anything even associated with that period in his career provides some idea of what it must have been like to be James Anderson in recent days: there's no getting him to flash at words in good areas. He is discipline personified.

But his return does raise questions. Could any of the other Caribbean players who have been largely absent from the West Indies team in recent times also be persuaded to come back?

"I know all of them have West Indies cricket at heart," he says. "But all their situations are a bit different. I'd love to have them back. They're all game-changers. They're very experienced. But it's up to them. I don't want to speak too much about it. We all know who we're speaking about."

Actually, it's not that clear. Andre Russell, for example, appears to have injury concerns and Sunil Narine has issues with his bowling action. Dwayne Bravo is 35 now (and retired from international cricket) while you wonder if there is room for Jason Holder and Kieron Pollard - for all his talent - in the same side. They could sure do with Pollard in St Lucia, though, with Holder suspended.

Maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is that peace may be breaking out in Caribbean cricket. And, with more enlightened management (at executive level, anyway) now in place, the plan is to schedule little or no international cricket during the unofficial window that exists for the IPL in order to allow West Indies players to take part. It is, basically, a more mature understanding of how the modern world works; an acceptance that most modern players still value Test cricket highly, but need to earn a living in the few years a career encompasses. It should lower the tension between the players and the board.

"If you can get the best of both worlds, that would be ideal," Bravo says. "I'm happy to be back. I'm not sure what's next for [my] T20 [franchise career]. We'll see how it goes. I don't know what the future holds."

I knew this day would come. I knew they wanted me back and I always knew I wanted to play Test cricket again. I wasn't nervous in Barbados; it was normal for me

So, did Bravo fear his Test career was over?

"No, no," he says. "I knew this day would come. I knew they wanted me back and I always knew I wanted to play Test cricket again. I wasn't nervous in Barbados; it was normal for me.

"They knew what I was capable of doing. My experience was a probably a vital part in coming back. As you could see from my innings in this Test, I have what it takes to play at this level."

So why the delay?

"I don't want to get into that. The time away from the game probably made me more hungry to do well. Everything is okay now. I'm back, I'm playing and I'm happy. We've just won a big series and that's the most important thing."

Indeed it is. And there is every chance this could be just the beginning for this West Indies side.

"I would say it is just the beginning, yes," he says. "We've been planning well and training hard. As we all know, it's a young team, but most of the guys have played 20-25 Tests. The guys have some experience and we're improving each and every day.

"Two wins don't make a summer. We know there's a long way to go. But we have a fantastic bowling line-up. It can trouble any batting line-up in the world. It's just a matter of our batsmen get starts carrying on for a long period. That's the difference between our team and the top teams at the moment.

"But it's good to win a series when we were written off before a ball was bowled. That's what gave us the motivation to go out there and do well. Even before the series started, the goal was to win 3-0. The coach gave us that goal and everyone bought into it. We want to achieve that goal.

"Guys will start believing in themselves more as we win games like this. I'm sure we'll start doing special things in the near future."

It is clear he places his captain, Holder, at the heart of this resurgence and central to its future.

"Whether he's captain or not, if there's one person I'd want on my team, it is Jason," Bravo says. "He's fantastic. Right now, he's the best all-rounder in the world.

"A couple of years ago I had the chance to captain West Indies in a practise game at the University of West Indies and he came just to be part of the game. I asked him to bowl and told him he was going to have to bowl until he dropped. I saw the quality. I saw how special he was.

"Now he's my captain and it's a great feeling. He's doing well and I'm happy for him. Whether we win or lose, Jason is the same person. He always gives the team his full support. He balances the sides as well.

"He's been doing well but, at the end of the day, cricket is a team sport and if the team doesn't do well, he's taken all the lashes. He stood up well and now he's reaping the rewards for his hard work and everything he believed in."

It's true that Holder seems to be both an inspirational and unifying leader. But there's no doubt his job is easier with Bravo in his side. It provides that experience, that backbone, that batting quality his side have been lacking. Together they could lead West Indies to some golden days over the next few years.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo