England made a positive start after winning the toss and reached 61 runs without loss at lunch on the first day of the third Test against South Africa at St George's Park.
The wicket had been expected to offer some early assistance to bowlers but turned docile quickly, allowing Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley to put together an unbeaten partnership in unusually hot and humid conditions.
Sibley, who scored an unbeaten 133 in the second Test in Cape Town to help England to level the series just over a week ago, played a handful of elegant strokes in scoring 30 off 81 balls.
Crawley did offer two half chances with mistimed shots in the first hour but the ball fell short of the fielder on both occasions before he seemed to settle and scoring a patient 20 not out.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis lost the toss for a sixth successive Test, with his England counterpart Joe Root quick to elect to bat.
England left out Jofra Archer and picked Mark Wood to replace James Anderson, who went home after the second Test as a broken rib cut short his tour.
Archer had been in contention to replace Anderson, but has an elbow injury which flared up again on Wednesday in practice.
South Africa handed a debut to 30-year-old Dane Paterson, who is the top bowler in domestic cricket and was chosen for his ability to get reverse swing out of the old ball.
His opening five overs cost 10 runs.
He took the place of allrounder Dwaine Pretorius.