BEN Stokes hijacked James Anderson’s headlines with career-best figures as West Indies were bowled out for 123 at Lord’s and England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker was left tantalisingly on 499.

West Indies then fought back in the evening session, reducing England to 46-4 at the close after the hosts had slumped to 24-4.

Stokes (13 not out) and Dawid Malan (13 not out) steadied the ship to leave the contest delicately poised.

Burnley’s Anderson was responsible for the first two wickets after the Windies chose to bat first in this decisive final Test of a series locked at 1-1, but second-change Stokes took over in an irresistible and tireless spell of 6-22 from 14.3 overs as the tourists were all out just after tea.

In reply, England lost Mark Stoneman early and Alastair Cook and Tom Westley in quick succession before captain Joe Root edged behind for one in tricky batting conditions.

But it was Stokes who stole the show, first with the ball and then with a gritty display with the bat, even if he did potentially take wickets away from Anderson.

“He’s got another innings to get it and what a place to do it,” said Stokes of the Lancashire star.

Of his own performance, Stokes added: “It was great conditions, it was overcast and the lights came on which help for any swing bowler.

“It was one of those spells.

“I felt in a really good rhythm and obviously knowing the ball was going to swing helped with that.”

Stokes is now focussed on playing his part with the bat as England target a first innings lead.

He added: “We’ve still got to score runs to try and get ahead of them. If we can get up to their score and a hundred past then we will fancy ourselves.”

Earlier in the day, Anderson saw off opener Kraigg Brathwaite and then Kyle Hope in his quest to become the first Englishman to 500 Test wickets, but after that it was all about Stokes from the Nursery End.

Wicketless in the second innings of England’s surprise defeat at Headingley last week, Anderson must have thought he was quickly back in business when, in only his second over under heavy cloud cover, Brathwaite edged to slip.

But Alastair Cook had not read the script, and put down a regulation chance as the opener was reprieved on three.

Anderson had to wait a little longer for wicket 498 when he had Brathwaite caught behind - doubtless much to the relief of Cook especially, after his third successive dropped slip catch.

Conditions dictated both Anderson and Stuart Broad were a major threat, as the new ball moved around in the air and occasionally off the pitch on a rain-interrupted morning.

After a 40-minute break, Anderson struck again with his second wicket in 12 balls, at no cost, when Hope tried to bail out of a drive but not before edging another catch to Jonny Bairstow to go for an 11-ball duck.

Toby Roland-Jones then struck twice before Stokes took over with a sensational spell.