A captain’s innings of 74 not out from Dane Vilas allowed Lancashire to grab control of a compelling Specsavers County Championship Division Two contest with Durham on a dramatic third day at Sedbergh School.

Lancashire ended 260 runs ahead with three wickets remaining, after Durham proved stubborn foes throughout three entertaining sessions during which they frequently looked to have stolen the advantage.

The day begun with a nervous moment for all fans of English cricket, when James Anderson was forced to leave the field just eight balls into his first spell, replaced in the attack by Josh Bohannon who finished the over after the 36-year-old had attempted to run in to bowl on three occasions before handing the ball to the umpire and departing clutching his right calf.

Anderson had felt a tightness in his calf and would not bowl again in the game.

The incident compounded a poor first 90 minutes for Lancashire who were unable to make any serious inroads into the Durham batting order despite taking the new ball.

Nathan Rimmington and Liam Trevaskis held firm, taking Durham’s overnight score from 199 for 5 to 263, before the latter edged Graham Onions behind for 38.

The dismissal sparked a revival from Lancashire, who took three quick wickets as Onions accounted for both Ned Eckersley lbw for three and Rimmington trapped in front for a well-made 53.

Ben Raine was next, edging to Steven Croft at slip for five, meaning Durham had lost two wickets on the same score for the second time in the innings.

Onions claimed his fifth wicket, to finish with 5-93 and when Chris Rushworth edged to Vilas for six, Durham were all out for 281 having lost their last five wickets for 18 runs and conceding a lead of 56 runs.

Durham fought back after lunch to turn the game on its head. Chris Rushworth had Keaton Jennings caught behind first ball of the innings, before Haseeb Hameed edged to Cameron Bancroft three balls later.

With the score 0 for 2 off just one over, some serious rebuilding was needed and Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone set about the task.

The pair were one short of a half-century partnership when Davies misjudged a cramped pull shot and was caught on the leg side boundary by Gareth Harte for 15 off Rimmington.

And 51 for 3 quickly became 55 for 4 as Livingstone edged Ben Raine to Bancroft for 35 with the Red Rose’s chances of victory receiving a further blow when Rob Jones was run out for five.

Vilas and Steven Croft steered the hosts to tea and went on to dominate much of the evening session, compiling a sixth wicket partnership of 87 before Croft was bowled for 35 by Rimmington with a delivery that kept low.

Josh Bohannon joined his captain at the crease and offered valuable support as they made their way past a lead of 200 until the young all-rounder feathered a cut behind off Brydon Carse for 23.

Vilas, who reached his second half-century of the game from 76 balls with seven fours, survived a blow to his forearm from Rimmington towards the close, but recovered to finish unbeaten at the end of play with Saqib Mahmood alongside him on 11 not out.

Rimmington admitted: "Unfortunately we fell away at the end of innings but we struck back with the ball and we've given ourselves a chance tomorrow. A few of their boys might be tired so we can cash in and win the game late.

"The odd ball has gone up and down but there's still runs to be had and if you can get those demons out of your head anything is chase-able.

"It's a lovely ground and you certainly don't get these type of grounds back in Australia - I'm enjoying it and it's beautiful."