MELBOURNE (AFP) – Mitchell Marsh proved the unlikely bowling star and Aaron Finch blasted the first ton of the World Cup as Australia crushed England by 111 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday.
The tournament favourites ruthlessly swept to victory in their opening Pool A match by posting their highest-ever one-day international total against England of 342 for nine.
They then dismissed their hapless arch-rivals for 231 with more than eight overs to spare.
All-rounder Marsh, making his World Cup debut, claimed five for 33 as Australia latched on to their catches with Steve Smith’s mid-air screamer to dismiss Jos Buttler the best of the highlight reel.
It was a comprehensive victory that signalled Australia as the team to beat as they bid to win their fifth World Cup and their first at home since going out in the semi-finals to England when they last hosted the event in 1992.
“I don’t think we’ve made any secret about it, we’re here to win the World Cup like 13 other teams are,” Finch said.
“I suppose what was great was that everyone contributed either with bat, ball or in the field, so from a team point of view it’s really good to see everyone playing well and peaking at the right time.”
It was a grim night for England, who only narrowly avoided their heaviest World Cup defeat — in terms of runs — following a 122 run-thrashing by South Africa at The Oval in 1999.
And apart from their bowlers getting flogged and dropped catches, England skipper Eoin Morgan was out for his fourth duck in his last seven innings.
“Probably the most frustrating thing was that we were making errors that we haven’t made this trip and again Australia played well but we had opportunities to take the game to them and we didn’t,” Morgan said.
“They certainly were the better team and they outplayed us in every department right fromm the start which is disappointing.”
James Taylor’s face-saving unbeaten knock of 98 not out was the lone bright spot, with England now having won just two of their last 16 ODI encounters Down Under.
Opener Finch punished England for Chris Woakes putting him down at mid-wicket on the fifth ball of the innings off James Anderson before the batsman had scored.
Finch thrilled his massive 84,336 home-town crowd with three sixes and 12 fours before he was finally run out by Morgan’s brilliant direct hit in the 37th over.
Finch’s knock was the second highest against England at the World Cup after West Indies great Vivian Richards’s 138 not out in the 1979 final.
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell showed off his improvised shotmaking in his all-action knock of 66 off 40 balls and skipper George Bailey contributed 55.
England made early inroads before Finch and Bailey restored the home side’s position from 70 for three to put on a stand of 146 runs off 156 balls after Stuart Broad took two wickets in two balls to remove the dangerous David Warner (22) and Shane Watson, caught behind for a first-ball duck.