Hashim Amla became South Africa's first triple-centurion as he and Jacques Kallis piled on England's misery in the first Investec Test.

Amla made history several times over on day four at the Kia Oval, most notably when he surpassed team-mate AB de Villiers' 278 not out - the previous highest Test innings for a South African - and then reached 300 shortly before tea.

On a day when the home bowlers were on the wrong end of all the records and statistics, Amla (311no) and Kallis (182no) also shared the highest third-wicket stand in England.

Their unbroken partnership of 377 - in South Africa's teatime 637 for two declared, following the 259 Amla put on with his captain Graeme Smith for the second wicket - powered the tourists into a lead of 252.

On a slow pitch yet to show significant signs of wear, there was no hiding place for England.

Amla, who came to the crease with the score one for one two days ago, had spent more than 12-and-a-half hours at the crease by the time he just cleared extra-cover off Tim Bresnan to complete his 300 with his 35th four from the 515th delivery he faced.

Kallis was no slouch either, pressing on past his 43rd Test century and towards what would be his third double as England's fruitless labours continued under a mocking sun.

He reached his hundred with a controlled edge wide of slip off Bresnan for his 13th four from 227 balls.

South Africa therefore had three centurions in their innings - one fewer than England, Broad the last bowler to top 100 runs conceded behind James Anderson, Bresnan and Graeme Swann.

There was never a semblance of a chance from either batsman, other than Amla's edge through Andrew Strauss' outstretched fingers at slip off Bopara when he had 40 on Friday evening - and then, on 305, when the same bowler missed a sharp return catch.

Even when England resorted to justifiable extremes of defence, bowling wide with boundary sweepers posted in most directions, Amla and Kallis found a way through without undue risk.

It was not until Amla was safely past his triple-century, and Kallis close to his double, that they appeared to dispense with all caution.