But Shivnarine Chanderpaul was once again proving a thorn in England's side when bad light halted play for the day with 40.4 overs bowled in three hours.
Chanderpaul, who has batted for more than 15 hours this series, was 44 not out with Dwayne Bravo unbeaten on 43, their stand currently worth 77 after they'd come together when West Indies had collapsed to 55 for four.
But both batsmen had been given reprieves with Chanderpaul dropped on nine and Bravo surviving a tough chance on 25.
England were in charge early on with left-arm paceman Sidebottom striking after rain had washed out Friday's first day and delayed Saturday's start by three hours.
At stumps Sidebottom had impressive figures of two for 34 in 11 overs. He was well supported by Matthew Hoggard (one for 35 off 15) and Stephen Harmison (one for 46 in 10.4).
"Maybe we bowled a tad too short," said Hoggard. "I think it was honours even at the end of the day."
Harmison, on his Durham home ground, might have had an even better return when Bravo, who'd taken 20 balls to get off the mark, saw a low drive after tea brush the bowler's fingertips.
"I was not really too concerned about getting off the mark," Bravo said.
"Coming in at 55 for four, I said to myself here's an opportunity to get a big one and put on a partnership with Shiv."
Earlier, England captain Michael Vaughan elected to field under overcast, seam-bowler friendly, skies.
He saw opposing skipper Daren Ganga out to the first ball when the opener turned Sidebottom to Alastair Cook at short leg.
Hoggard, who'd missed the last two Tests with a groin problem sustained in the series opener at Lord's, came in for the dropped Liam Plunkett in England's only change to the team that won the third Test at Old Trafford by 60 runs to take an unbeatable 2-0 series lead.
He was soon swinging the ball in trademark fashion alongside Sidebottom.
But Gayle drove Sidebottom for four and lofted him over mid-wicket for six in successive balls.
Gayle then struck Hoggard for four through the covers off the backfoot.
But two balls later Hoggard swung a delivery back into the flamboyant left-handed opener's pads and Gayle was lbw for 28 off 24 balls with one six and three fours.
Then 32 for two became 34 for three when Devon Smith, deliberately playing no shot, was bowled by a Sidebottom ball that hit his off-stump.
His exit brought in fellow left-hander Chanderpaul, who made 50 and an unbeaten 116 at Old Trafford.
The 32-year-old Guyanese, who has an impressive average of nearly 46 in 104 matches at this level, reached the landmark of 7,000 Test runs with a leg-glanced four off Harmison.
But when he edged a drive off Hoggard to third slip, Ian Bell dropped the head-high chance.
"I don't think he's failed once this series," said Hoggard of Chanderpaul. "It would have been nice to get him early."
Monty Panesar dropped Chanderpaul on 18 in his second innings in Manchester and Hoggard's anguished cry suggested this miss might prove equally expensive.
Harmison, often wayward this series, generally bowled a full, straight line and he was rewarded when, off the last ball of his second over, Runako Morton drove him to Sidebottom at mid-off.
West Indies made two changes with Marlon Samuels, a batsman and off-spinner, replacing Darren Sammy. The all-rounder took seven for 66 on his Test debut at Old Trafford but subsequently strained a hamstring while batting.
Fast bowler Daren Powell, dropped in Manchester, replaced fellow quick Jerome Taylor.
West Indies have a woeful recent international record having won just two of their last 38 Tests.