Wellington: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum recorded the fastest-ever World Cup fifty when he reached the landmark off just 18 balls to help his team cruise to an 8-wicket win over England.

The opener's whirlwind half-century featured seven fours and four sixes as New Zealand rapidly closed in on victory after skittling England out for just 123.  McCullum beat his own World Cup record when he carved fast bowler Steven Finn for four, having made a fifty off 20 balls against Canada in 2007.

Brendon McCullum
Brendon McCullum. Pic/ Atul Kamble

His innings was also the equal third-fastest fifty in all one-day internationals, behind South Africa's AB de Villiers (16 balls) and Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya (17 balls).

Earlier, paceman Tim Southee took seven wickets to register the best bowling figures by a New Zealander as England were bowled out for just 123 in their World Cup Pool A match at Westpac stadium on Friday.

The 26-year-old achieved the third best figures in all World Cups with 7-33 in nine overs after England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and decided to bat on a flat-looking pitch.

Southee, who took two wickets in his first spell of five overs, was devastating as England were bowled out in 33.2 overs, with Trent Boult, Daniel Vettori and Adam Milne also chipping in with a wicket each. 

New Zealand bowler Tim Southee (centre L) celebrates with teammates after dismissing England batsman Ian Bell
New Zealand bowler Tim Southee (centre L) celebrates with teammates after dismissing England batsman Ian Bell. Pic/ AFP 

Southee beat the previous best bowling by a New Zealander in all one-day cricket, recorded by Shane Bond, now the team's bowling coach, who took 6-19 against India at Bulawayo in 2005. 

Only Joe Root, last man out in the 34th over, offered resistance with 46 while opener Moeen Ali made 20 and Morgan managed 17 in an otherwise disappointing batting display. England were looking at a revival at 103-3 with Morgan and Root batting without smoothly when calamity struck.

Morgan, who had managed just two runs with four ducks in his last five innings, holed out at long-on off Vettori and will rue the shot as England lost their last seven wickets for just 19 runs. Ian Bell (eight) and Ali were bowled by Southee in his first incisive spell of five overs, costing 23 runs.

Southee returned for his second spell dismissing James Taylor (nought), Jos Buttler (three), Chris Woakes (one), Stuart Broad (four) and Steven Finn (nought) in a damaging spell of four overs.

He took these five wickets in the space of just 18 balls to record the third best figures in all World Cups behind Australian Glenn McGrath (7-15) and fellow Australian Andy Bichel (7-20).

Root hit three boundaries in his 70-ball resistance packed innings while Ali hit three.