Smith hails perfect Proteas
Graeme Smith lived the dream with a century in his 100th Test as he and Hashim Amla took control against England at the Kia Oval.
The South Africa captain is due to travel home at the conclusion of this first Investec Test to attend the birth of his first child, and he can hope to do so with an opening victory under his belt.
While England's bowlers searched for an answer, and found none, Smith (131) and his second-wicket partner Amla batted supremely in a record stand of 259 to underpin 403 for two at stumps.
Amla (183no) and Jacques Kallis (82no) will begin again already 18 runs in front, with massive power to add before South Africa bid to bowl England out a second time to go 1-0 up with two Tests to play.
For Smith, though, there is obvious personal satisfaction - in emotional circumstances too, as he nears the watershed of fatherhood for the first time - after his 25th Test century, and seventh against England.
"It was a dream to come here and have the chance to do that," he said, after becoming the seventh batsman in history to mark his 100th Test with a century.
"At one stage when (Graeme) Swann was spinning it past my bat it looked a long way away, but once you fight through those tough times it became a reality.
"It's so difficult to put into words; when I got to a hundred there were so many emotions that were flowing through me - from that to knowing my wife is giving birth in three days' time.
"All of those things were coming through - it's sort of a blank moment in my mind.
"I don't think it's sunk in yet.
"It was quite surreal at the time, and a lot of thoughts and emotions ran through my head when I reached the hundred."
Smith would dearly love now to help make sure his runs are part of a Test win over the world's number one team.
"Firstly, to have played 100 Tests is a terrific achievement, but to reach a milestone like this is the cherry on the top - it feels great," he said.
"We do want to have the chance to push for a victory. If we give ourselves a chance to bowl out England then I believe we've got the armoury to do that, certainly."
There was no way Smith was going to forget about his wife Morgan back home, in his moment of celebration.
But she made sure anyway, with a mischievous tweet - joking all the excitement might bring her into labour early.
Mrs Smith has caused a stir more than once already with her humorous social messaging, so her husband knows what to expect.
"She's obviously been very supportive considering the fact she's about to give birth," he said.
"All our families are down with her now in Cape Town - and I hope when I get there it will all go smoothly, God willing."
As for the tweets, he has decided it is sometimes best not to check for her latest remarks.
"I try not to these days.
"She's quite impulsive. I'm trying to calm her down a little bit."
While Smith had so much to smile about, England's brows were furrowed.
But bowling coach David Saker absolved his charges of any blame, against world-class batsmen who refused to make any mistakes.
"I wouldn't have said it was bad bowling," he said.
"It was extremely good batting from Smith and Amla in particular, and then Kallis put the icing on the cake at the end.
"We just couldn't get the ball to move laterally, which is one of our big strengths."
Saker admitted nonetheless that today was certainly one of his toughest since he joined England just before the successful 2010 ICC World Twenty20 campaign.
"I've been quite fortunate in my job since I've been there that we haven't had days like this very often.
"It was a tough day watching, but I was pretty proud of the way they just kept running in.
"They did pretty much everything we asked them to do, but we just couldn't get that ball to move ... couldn't get through the defences of any of their batters - and the batting was exceptional, and the wicket tough work."
Asked if victory is still possible, Saker said: "You'd have to be pretty optimistic to do that.
"But games can turn pretty quickly, and we'll still be giving it our best shot to win this one.
"We'll still be hungry to win, but we know we're a long way behind at the moment."
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