England v Sri Lanka: Moeen Ali exposes abject Sri Lanka - Jonathan Agnew

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent
Moeen Ali plays a pull shot
Moeen Ali passed his previous highest Test score of 108

Sri Lanka had an absolutely rotten second day in the second Test against England at Chester-le-Street.

They hung in there so well on day one to restrict England to 310-6, but I'm afraid they undid all their good work with some woeful batting and a couple of shocking misses in the field.

England, however, were excellent - no-one more so than two players whose places in the side have been under scrutiny: Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes.

Having once again demolished Sri Lanka's inexperienced batting line-up, I fully expect England to press home their advantage in this match and wrap up a straightforward win - and with it the series.

Moeen shines, but keep him at eight

Moeen's unbeaten 155, his second Test hundred, was a typically majestic innings.

He reminds me of David Gower when he's in full flow: Yes, he can play limp, wishy-washy shots that get him out, but he is also capable of sumptuous, elegant strokeplay, and the good far outweighs the bad.

Sri Lanka had opportunities to snuff him out - he was dropped on 36 and 105 - but sport is all about taking your chances and he played with great confidence for a man who has had a few low scores recently.

Moeen was batting at number seven and this will no doubt lead to calls for him to move up from his usual position of eight, but I wouldn't move him anywhere.

Woakes could compete with Finn

Steven Finn and Chris Woakes
Could Steven Finn (left) and Chris Woakes be rivals for an England place?

We haven't seen the best of Chris Woakes so far in his fitful England career, but on Saturday I think we did.

After making a good contribution with the bat, he carried the form and confidence from taking 9-34 in the County Championship into his bowling, and ran through the Sri Lankan middle order - assisted by some hapless batting.

I've been impressed with Woakes ever since he made his debut against Australia in 2013 - people tend to have a rather negative reaction to him, but he is a fine cricketer who can be relied upon to do a good job for the team.

He's never going to give you the sort of talismanic all-round contribution that Ben Stokes is capable of. In all likelihood, Woakes will have to step aside when Stokes is fit again.

All Woakes can do is make that decision as hard as possible for the selectors, and who knows, if he can continue taking wickets, he could even put pressure on players such as Steven Finn, who has looked short of his best rhythm in this series so far.

No sympathy for woeful Sri Lanka

Kaushal Silva walks off after being dimissed
Kaushal Silva was one of seven Sri Lanka batsmen caught behind the wicket

Sri Lanka needed to bowl England out for 360 to give themselves a chance in this game, and if they had hung on to two simple chances in the opening half-hour of the day, they would have had every chance of doing just that.

That rather set the tone for the rest of the day and they simply capitulated in the face of some aggressive England batting and disciplined bowling.

At least in the first Test they could blame the conditions - well, I'm sorry, but there was no excuse for the way they batted on Saturday. The pitch didn't do much, but with a mountain of runs hanging over them, their batting was simply abject.

There will be those who say that one-sided days like this strengthen the case for Test cricket to be split into two divisions.

I'm not in favour of that - you have to try to support these countries who are playing Test cricket. You have to accept that Sri Lanka are in a transitional phase, having lost two all-time great batsmen in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

Having said that, I'm not sure it's in anyone's interests to send them up to Leeds and Durham for two Tests so early in the year.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's James Gheerbrant.

Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoffrey Boycott review the day's play on the TMS podcast.