South Africa will have to produce a world record-breaking chase if they are to win the 100th Test at the Oval after England piled on the runs on the fourth day.
They will have to bat four sessions to save the third Investec Test and head to Manchester all-square for the final game next week.
England racked up 313 for eight before declaring at tea with Joe Root making it clear that he was not going to give South Africa even a sniff of what would be a monumental victory by ensuring that his side completely batted them out of the game.
That leaves South Africa needing a theoretical 492 to go 2-1 up in what will effectively be 138 overs as 98 are scheduled both for Sunday and Monday because of the rain that has effected this third Investec Test.
Alastair Cook was often accused of being a conservative captain but Root was no more enterprising in telling his batsmen to carry on until tea on the fourth day even though they already had more than the world record 418 to win a Test.