Anderson started and ended the first session on 381 Test wickets, two short of Sir Ian Botham’s English record, with the hosts doing their best to delay his coronation as the country’s most prolific bowler.
He worked through six overs, four with the old ball and two with the new one, but it was James Tredwell and the impressively hostile Stuart Broad who advanced the tourists’ prospects of victory.
At lunch the home side were 234 for six in reply to 399, though it could have been even better for England with a pair of sharp chances going to ground.
Ben Stokes had Jermaine Blackwood dropped at slip and Gary Balance failed to hold a sharp chance off Jason Holder.
Blackwood reached the break on 69 from 172 balls, a strangely idiosyncratic innings but one that was increasingly vital to keeping his team in the equation.
The islanders resumed on 155 for four and faced a brief five-over burst from the Anderson-Broad axis first up.
The ball was already 66 overs old but Anderson was moving it.
Blackwood was wrong-footed by a late inswinger and lobbed it just wide of a diving Broad at mid-on.
That aside Anderson was not winning the battle, ceding 19 runs from 18 balls as Shivnarine Chanderpaul came out of his shell with back-to-back driven boundaries.
Stokes’ arrival at the Sir Andy Roberts End threatened to change things.
His ninth delivery cramped Blackwood for room, with the ball angled downwards to gully where Tredwell dived quickly to his left.
The catch initially stuck but popped out as his arms hit the ground.
It was unlucky for Stokes, who had already dismissed Blackwood on day one only to be called for a no-ball.
It took some smart captaincy from Alastair Cook to make the breakthrough, offering Tredwell a packed offside field and inviting him to float the ball towards off stump.
It cost him one boundary but bought him Chanderpaul’s wicket as the 40-year-old picked out one of two short covers.
After 139 balls and 46 runs it was a soft way for the limpet-like number five to surrender his innings.
The second new ball was taken soon after, though Anderson was afforded just two overs with it.
Broad was proving the more dangerous proponent, getting extra bounce and hitting Blackwood with a couple of rearing short balls.
After seeing Blackwood fend just short of Jos Buttler behind the stumps, Broad came round the wicket and picked off Denesh Ramdin with a ball that honed into the ribcage and flicked a glove.
That late breakthrough almost led to a second as Broad warmed to his task but Holder’s firm connection did not stick in Balance’s hands.