The England cricketers have a lead of 43 runs over South Africa following three days of the second test in Durban.
The Opening batsman Alastair Cook made 118 and Paul Collingwood 91 as England reached 386 for 5 at stumps.
The patient fourth-wicket partnership of 142 between Cook and Collingwood put England in a strong position as South Africa's bowlers toiled under a hot sun in the best batting conditions of the match.
It was slow going for the most part against disciplined bowling but Ian Bell gave the innings impetus after tea as he hurried to a 65-ball half-century.
Bell, who like Cook had been under pressure to make runs, finished 55 not out.
Paceman Morne Morkel was easily South Africa's best bowler, taking 3-69.
For the first time in the match, there was a full day's play under a cloudless sky, with 283 runs scored in 96.4 overs for the loss of four wickets.
After no half-centuries in his past eight Test innings, Cook reached his 10th hundred off 218 deliveries.
Cook made a successful use of the review system after umpire Amish Saheba gave him out caught at short leg off off-spinner JP Duminy when he was on 64.
Television umpire Steve Davis ruled the ball had not touched the bat before bouncing off the batsman's pad to Hashim Amla.