Yorkshire lost their final game of the season against the Essex Eagles at Headingley today but the match will be remembered not for the result, but for the outstanding performance of a talented youngster who made a half-century on his very first outing in county cricket.

Joe Root has long been heralded as the next big thing at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and, after pulling on the first-team shirt for his debut, he sparked in the middle to make sure the Tykes reached a respectable total in their final Pro40 League match.

“I’m pretty pleased,” he said after the game. “If you’d have offered me that at the start of the day, I’d have taken it.”

“Martyn called me yesterday to say I was playing but I wasn’t too nervous to be honest,” Root added. “I was just relieved to get off the mark and then tried to go on and enjoy it.”

The 18-year-old certainly looked like he was having a good time, playing a superbly-judged innings that picked up pace when needed as other more experienced batsmen fell around him.

Andrew Gale had already been caught behind by James Foster for eight by the time Root found his first boundary but after Adam Lyth was bowled for 15 by Mervyn Westfield, the teenager settled noticeably in the company of skipper Anthony McGrath.

His growing confidence was highlighted by a crisp lift off his toes that saw Westfield sent briskly to the deep-square boundary and, following expertly judged hooks and sweeps to Tim Phillips and Graham Napier, Root was well on his way to a 50 on debut.

Gary Ballance was making just his second appearance for the Tykes and he produced a brilliant cameo to further underline the blossoming potential in Yorkshire’s second team.

Ballance had never played limited-overs cricket for the first team before but you wouldn’t have known it from the way he made a blistering 33 off just 37 balls, including back-to-back sixes off Danish Kaneria that soared majestically over the midwicket boundary.

Ballance was eventually stumped when trying to launch Kaneria for a third time, and Root fell just 20 balls short of carrying his bat for 63 when Napier found a bit of movement to hit his middle and off stumps.

Without any other assistance of note, Yorkshire’s score of 187 was always going to be attainable, and a superb century from Mark Pettini ensured the visitors cruised to victory by seven wickets with 39 balls to spare.

Yorkshire played out a draw with Hampshire on the final day of the LV County Championship season at Headingley on Saturday.

Martyn Moxon’s side's safety in the top flight had already been assured and they finish the season in seventh position.