Twin centuries cap memorable return

Welcome home, JP Duminy. Home to the WACA. Where you started once and now where you have started again.

Welcome home, Dean Elgar. Home to the WACA. Where your start could have been your end and where you have now gained seniority.

Welcome home, South Africa. Home to the WACA. Where your top four have never collectively failed and you've never been defeated. It's nice to be back, isn't it? Especially because it seems that all around you there are mirrors to reflect the good memories.

Duminy and Elgar debuted here, so it is a special place for both, even though Elgar's start wasn't: he made a pair in 2012. At least he knew things could only get better. Duminy, on the other hand, scored a match-wining half-century when he replaced an injured Ashwell Prince in 2008. Prince was then the man who talked Duminy out of Test retirement earlier this year when, after a period of poor form, Duminy considered calling time.

If there was a period which said thank goodness he didn't, it came after lunch on day three of his return to Perth. Duminy creamed four cover drives, two off Mitchell Starc, two off Josh Hazlewood, none off particularly good balls but all with the class of French music at dinner time. Then came the complete opposite, a scything cut off the back foot from a horrible Nathan Lyon delivery, a shot that said he could dominate as much as he could delight. Just like that Duminy shifted gears, went from 74 to 96 and to within touching distance of a milestone to add to his already impressive record against the toughest opposition out there.

Duminy averages 50.93 in 11 Tests against Australia, miles ahead of 34.22 overall. Three of his hundreds have been scored against them, two in Australia. This one meant something a little more. It was celebrated with an unusually long hug on a stinking hot day with Elgar, who had reason of his own to understand the importance.

While Elgar's place has not come under the same microscope as Duminy's, he has yet to put in that series of big performances that cement a Test spot. He enjoyed a breakthrough innings in the same Test Duminy last scored a century - Galle 2014 - and since then he has been through four opening partners, none of whom appeared a permanent match. Elgar became the constant, albeit not consistent, perhaps aided by how much he serves as a reminder of his illustrious predecessor. Elgar has the same raw technique as Graeme Smith, the same ability to score runs by what seems like sheer will and even the same snarl. Although significantly shorter, he is starting to stand as tall as Smith used to and has demonstrated the same appetite for a battle and attitude of resilience.

On the second afternoon, he got into a short-ball battle with Mitchell Starc and survived. On the third morning, he had a similar fight but with Starc pitching it up. Both times, Elgar did not allow himself to be frustrated by the constant threat. He won in the end. Starc eventually served up a half-volley on the pads and Elgar played a Duminy-esque stroke to take him to fifty.

Less attractive shots followed, including the heave that should have seen him dismissed on 81, but the hallmark of his innings was not strokeplay but spirit. Elgar simply wanted to stick around. He wanted it so much that he faced more balls than he has in any Test innings before. He wanted it so much that when he got it, it really showed. The gaze at the bat that hit the shot that brought the hundred held for a few seconds longer, the smooch of the badge lasted longer too and then he did not seem in a hurry to get anywhere. He simply batted on.

Elgar has finally done what Smith built his career on. He scored a first second-innings century and it could prove decisive. That he scored it on the ground where he was twice taken out by Mitchell Johnson in match where he would have wanted to make an impression can be seen as a sign of how far he has come.

Contrastingly, for Duminy, it was a realisation of how far he had to go to get back here. In the last two years, Duminy has put an immense amount of work into improving. He has overcome problems against the short ball and spin, learnt to take responsibility as a limited-overs finisher and. now, bat in the crucial No. 4 position in Tests. His elevation up the order is a result of AB de Villiers' injury-enforced absence but he has embraced the challenge as though it were something he wouldn't mind continuing with, not least because it gives him the opportunity to become more consistent.

Since 2008, when Duminy made his debut, he has twice gone more than two years without a Test hundred - Jacques Rudolph is the only other South Africa batsman to do so in that time, though his drought was caused by accepting a Kolpak deal. Duminy's lengthy lean patches have taken their toll and both the team and his own reputation have suffered. But here, back at the WACA, he put 141 runs between himself and the suggestion that his talents were on the wane, coming full circle at a place he can truly call a second home.