County Championship: Anderson's best offers Lancashire slim hope

Lancashire and England fast bowler James Anderson
James Anderson's previous best in a Lancashire shirt was 6-23 against Hampshire at Southampton in 2002
County Championship Division Two, Chelmsford (day three, close)
Essex 394: Ryder 116, Bopara 99, Ten Doeschate 59; Anderson 7-77
Lancashire 131-2: Hameed 63, Brown 39
Lancashire trail Essex by 263 runs with 8 wickets remaining
Essex 4 pts, Lancashire 3 pts
Match scorecardexternal-link

England fast bowler James Anderson took career-best Championship bowling figures of 7-77 to keep alive promoted Lancashire's fading hopes of lifting the Division Two title at Chelmsford.

Anderson picked up the last three wickets after Essex, resuming on 328-7, were eventually bowled out for 394.

Lancashire, needing three batting points to even stand a chance of overhauling Surrey, then reached 131-2.

But they never resumed again after bad light forced an early tea.

Lancashire now find the odds stacked against them in their quest to finish ahead of their long-time title rivals. They must now reach 300 on the final day, bowl out Essex cheaply and then go on to win, while hoping that top of the table Surrey do not beat Northants.

Essex's Porter is awarded his county cap
Essex fast bowler Jamie Porter, who has taken 49 Championship wickets this season, was awarded his county cap at the lunch break.

The third day's play had already been delayed because of rain when Anderson quickly found the edge to have James Foster caught at slip.

Making only his second appearance since July after two months out with a side strain, Anderson then followed it up by trapping Graham Napier for 31 immediately after the batsman had driven him for six. He then wrapped up the innings by bowling Jamie Porter.

Lancashire made a confident start as Karl Brown and Haseeb Hameed put on 66 for the first wicket.

But after Brown, dropped by Nick Browne at mid-wicket, was caught down the leg side by keeper Foster for 39, Hameed got to 63 before steering Jesse Ryder to England captain Alastair Cook at first slip.

Acting head coach Chris Silverwood told BBC Radio Essex:

"To score nearly 400 against a side who will be playing Division One next year is extremely satisfying.

"The guys have put in some good performances for both the team and individually since I've been in charge and I'm delighted with them.

"It's only a little more than a year since Jamie Porter came into the first team but he grabbed his chance then and continues to make excellent progress. He works hard and has been an integral and successful member of our new ball attack. He's earned his recognition."

Lancashire coach Ashley Giles told BBC Manchester:

"It has been a frustrating day because of the weather. Overall, we have to be satisfied with our season.

"The T20 was magnificent for the whole club. We started slowly but came good in the end. To get promotion in the Championship was our number one aim at the start of the season and we've achieved that.

"We have probably just fallen off the edge a bit in the last three or four games. We need to have a look at that because we can't afford to do that next year."