Cape Town - Joe Root celebrated his debut performance as England's Test match captain with his 12 career century on the opening day of the first Test match against the Proteas at Lord's in London on Thursday.
England won the toss and made a decision to bat first with Gary Ballance slotted at three and Liam Dawson being the second spinner in the side.
England cricket director and former captain Andrew Strauss is also confident Ballance can make the most of his opportunity.
Root's knock came with a slice of good fortune (he was dropped twice) but, for the most part, he looked in fine fettle. Recalled for a third crack at Test cricket after churning out the runs for Yorkshire this season, Ballance was lbw to Morkel, altering his delivery angle to around the wicket, for 20.
Root's predecessor Alastair Cook was the first to go, but the new skipper proved much more resilient and, together with Ben Stokes (56) and Moeen Ali (61 not out), rescued the innings from a complete nosedive.
South Africa, who haven't lost an away Test series for 10 years, have plenty of fast-bowling firepower of their own, including Kagiso Rababa - one of world cricket's undoubted rising stars.
Joe Root is relishing the start of his tenure as England captain at last but knows his new role will impose a level of scrutiny he has never previously experienced. Now is the time for Keaton Jennings to open, he has scored runs in his global clash and others have done well too - Mark Stoneman has scored well and done very well of late, but I think the squad was already chosen but Keaton will do well, I have no doubt about that. At stumps, the England scorecard read 357/5 and the reason behind their strong position was a marvellous contribution of 184 by skipper Joe Root.
Rabada has twice made a significant impression on England, including at Lord's where earlier this tour his four-wicket burst helped give the Proteas a consolation win in an overall one-day worldwide series loss.
Neither will Root be satisfied yet with what he has done, a double-century in his sights as he looks to garland his captaincy debut in the best possible fashion.
Root should have been out for 149 when he charged down the pitch to Maharaj and was stumped by yards. That is how good a player Root is, able to take advantage when he sees an opposition vulnerable as the tiring South Africa, with just four frontline bowlers, were in the final session.
Stokes, however, fell soon afterwards when his top-edged hook off Rababa flew straight to wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock.
Du Plessis' place in the middle order will be filled by either Theunis de Bruyn, who has played just one test, or Aiden Markram, who is uncapped.
Root would, of course, rightly point to other days when the cards have been dealt differently.
He has a special connection with opponents South Africa, with six of his seven Test matches for England coming against the Proteas. Root was on 16 at the time.