Graeme Smith led from the front with his 19th Test century as South Africa took charge on the third day of the third Castle Lager Test at Newlands on Tuesday as the England bowlers wilted in the heat.
As the temperature soared to the high thirties, the Proteas showed that their dismal batting performance in the second Test in Durban last week had been an aberration.
After dismissing England for 273 in the first half hour of the day for a first-innings lead of just 18, the Proteas knuckled down to build an enormous lead.
Ashwell Prince, who has battled in the opening position in the series, was incorrectly given out with his score on five, in a bizarre fashion.
Matthew Prior appealed loudly for a caught behind decision off James Anderson. Prince turned away to compose himself, and umpire Daryl Harper, thinking he was walking, raised his finger. Prince immediately called for a review, which showed that the ball had been nowhere near his bat, and the decision was overturned.
However, Prince fell with his score on 15, leg before wicket to Graeme Swann.
Smith was joined by Hashim Amla, who made a century in the first Test at Centurion, but failed in both innings in Durban, and together they flayed the England attack. They saw off the new ball, and after that, they were merciless. Their half-century partnership, which came off 100 balls, also brought up South Africa’s 100 run lead.
Smith’s 27th Test 50 came up off 80 balls, but he nearly lost his wicket just after reaching the milestone, when he was given out leg before wicket, trying top sweep Swann. He called for an umpire review, and to the delight of the South Africans in the nearly 16 000-strong crowd, the television replay showed that the ball was going over the top of the stumps, and Smith survived to fight on.
He and Amla appeared to be playing in perfect harmony, with first one, and then the other dominating.
Flow of runs
When they came out after tea, Smith launched into the England attack, leaving Andrew Strauss scratching his head as he tried to stem the flow of runs.
Smith reached his 19th century off 171 deliveries, and had another scare next ball, when he appeared to have been caught behind by Prior off Graham Onions. But Prior sportingly indicated that he was not sure that it was a clean catch, and television replays showed that Smith was not out.
Amla appeared to be heading for a well-deserved century, when his innings came to a grinding halt. He pushed at a Swann delivery and Alastair Cook took a superb catch at short left to send Amla back on 95. His second wicket stand with Smith was worth 220 runs.
England’s celebrations were short-lived – having bowled nearly 66 overs for the loss of just two wickets, Amla was replaced by the giant of South African batting, Jacques Kallis.
Smith and Kallis put on 51 runs in the last hour before stumps.
Smith ended the day unbeaten on 162 and Kallis was not out on 20.