Anderson, 27, missed the recent tour of Bangladesh after undergoing surgery on his troublesome knee injury. But it didn’t take him long to rediscover his best form, claiming 6-44 in 20.5 overs to help skittle Essex out for just 176.
Indeed, it was a good day for England bowlers as they made rare appearances on the county circuit. Stuart Broad returned for a run-out for Nottinghamshire and took 3-79 as they bowled Somerset out for 272 at Trent Bridge.
Yorkshire paceman Ajmal Shahzad also wasn’t to be denied his chance to impress, taking 3-61 as Kent limped to 313-9 at Canterbury.
But there was no such joy for England captain Andrew Strauss, however, whose slow start to the season with the bat continued as he was bowled out for 25 as his Middlesex side rallied to 281-5 against Northants.
As Strauss toiled, Michael Carberry continued to impress the selectors, scoring 113 for Hampshire as they reached 298-8 against Durham at the Riverside.
England, meanwhile, confirmed they will fly direct to the West Indies as planned on Sunday for the World Twenty20.
It had been suggested the team might have to travel across land and sea to Dubai before catching a flight to the Caribbean due to the chaos caused by volcanic ash from Iceland. But with flights now back up and running, the team can revert to their original plan.