Quinton de Kock believes he's played better innings than the brutal 178 that destroyed Australia's bowlers to deliver victory for South Africa in the first ODI at Centurion.

On a friendly pitch, de Kock was able to capitalise on Australia's failure to mount a truly intimidating score after a fast start. He also took advantage of a visiting bowling attack that had been weakened by the resting of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

"It was the most free [flowing] knock that I've played," de Kock told reporters after the match. "But I've played a couple of other knocks that I've enjoyed more, where I've had to work hard for the runs.

"Those are the type of knocks that I enjoy. I had to work hard for the runs today, but it was just my day I guess. The wicket was quite nice to play on, it allowed me to play my natural game. Hopefully there will be a couple more wickets like that in the series. Then we can have some more fun."

Though he conceded the bowling was not up to scratch, Australia's captain Steven Smith was more concerned by the way his batsmen were unable to mount a large enough total. In the absence of Starc and Hazlewood, Smith is aware big scores are required.

"I thought we started off quite poorly with the ball, we gave him a few freebies to get away," Smith said. "We were a bit too short and a bit too wide at times. And from there it just looked like he got in a rhythm, and it felt like every ball was going to the boundary at one point.

"We got a nice wicket to bat on and we gave some opportunities away. We got a lot of starts and nobody was able to go on and get a big score like Quinton de Kock did. So going forward it's the responsibility of one of our top four to post a big total, and if we do that then the team total is going to be big as well."