BATSMAN Jacques Kallis's 33rd Test century helped steer South Africa to 279-6 after England had the hosts struggling at 127-5 on day one of the third Test in Cape Town.
Kallis was left unbeaten on 108 at the close after sharing an 89-run stand with keeper Mark Boucher (51) for the sixth wicket.
England bowlers James Anderson and Graeme Swann picked up two wickets apiece but after the home fell to 51-3 after lunch, Kallis struck his second hundred of the series, much to Anderson's frustration.
"He's very focused when he bats and very difficult to bowl at. You've just got to deal with it. You come across these players in Test cricket," he said.
"The lateness that he plays the ball is incredible and even when the ball is reversing he can pick it, which makes it even harder."
Strauss's decision to bowl first amid low cloud at Newlands was vindicated early on when Anderson had Ashwell Prince caught behind.
And despite Swann dropping Smith next over, the spinner made amends after lunch, grabbing the wickets of AB de Villiers and JP Duminy in successive balls.
But Kallis's ton, which puts him ahead of Steve Waugh into fifth in the all-time list of century-makers, and Boucher's knock restored the balance.
"The conditions this morning were very bowler-friendly. In the warm-up it was swinging a lot and with rain around as well, it was a very easy choice for us to bowl," said Anderson.
"We're happy with the decision. They've played really well Kallis played unbelievably well."