Aussie opener Aaron Finch led the way with a sparking innings of 135 as his team destroyed hapless England by 111 runs in front of 84,000 fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the opening day of the tournament.
The competition favourites amassed a huge total of 342-9 from their 50 overs, despite being reduced to 70-3 at one stage during a rare England purple patch in which Stuart Broad took two wickets in successive balls.
Skipper George Bailey made 55 and Glenn Maxwell 66 as Australia piled the agony on England. Steve Finn did achieve the distinction of becoming the first England bowler ever to take a World Cup hat-trick, but it was an almost embarrassing achievement as three successive catches off three skied shots late in the innings left him with flattering figures of 5-71.
James Taylor was the only England batsman to offer any meaningful response as he finished unbeaten on 98 – deprived of a hundred as James Anderson was controversially given run out to leave the visitors high and dry on 231 after 41.5 overs.
Earlier in the day New Zealand had enjoyed an equally comfortable victory as they beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs in Christchurch. Skipper Brendon McCullum set the ball rolling with 65 from 49 balls, and Kane Williamson contributed 57 and Corey Anderson 75 as the Kiwis posted an imposing total of 331-6 from their 50 overs – smashing 102 off the last 10 overs.
Sri Lanka slumped to 233 all out off 46.1 overs in reply, opener Lahiru Thirimanne top-scoring with 65 on what turned out to be a glorious first day for the co-host nations.