KANE Williamson chuckles when asked the question: Are New Zealand favourites for the forthcoming Twenty20 tri-series involving England and Australia?

The ICC world rankings certainly suggest so. Williamson's Black Caps sit in second place – they were top at the start of the weekend before losing to Pakistan, who jumped above them – while England are fourth and Australia seventh.

"Do we go in as favourites? I don't know," admitted the Kiwis captain and Yorkshire overseas player. "Rankings are a funny thing. They change all the time.

"They're three strong teams and in T20 cricket anything can happen on the day, as we all know, so it's pretty hard to say who are favourites."

Despite a 2-1 defeat to Pakistan on home soil in last week's series, Williamson and his troops are riding high at the moment in all formats of the game. Success in game one gave them a 13th straight victory.

Their next challenge is this tri-series, which starts for them against Australia in Sydney on Saturday. The second half of the competition moves across the Tasman to New Zealand, with the final in Auckland on February 21.

"It's a cool thing to be a part of and something different," said Williamson.

"It's been a focus in the international game recently. It's been well documented that there's a Test championship coming up, with the idea of creating that context around it, and we're seeing that in T20 as well.

"There's so much T20 cricket going on and it was only a matter of time before something like a tri-series was introduced."

From now until early April, the New Zealanders face England across all formats – and Williamson cannot wait for what he describes as a "tough" battle.

He said: "It's a big end to our summer. Obviously the tri-series comes first, starting in a few days, then we have the one-dayers and the Tests.

"It will be tough competition because England are a very good side in all formats. We are very much looking forward to it.

"They're playing a great brand of cricket and have some very exciting players throughout their whole squad, who we've seen play extremely well in the one-day stuff over there in Australia."

Then it is on to a two-match Test series in late March, including a pink-ball clash at Eden Park in Auckland.

Like the T20 rankings, New Zealand are above England in the Test statistics too, sitting fourth and fifth respectively.

"We know England are a very strong Test team, despite what happened in the Ashes," said Williamson.

"They're a very experienced side with a lot of cricket behind them in all different conditions.

"Australia played very well against them – but they will have had a bit of time between drinks with the white-ball cricket they've played. It should be fun to play in.

"They're always dangerous and they're one of the best Test sides going around. Yes, they had a tough series in Australia, but I don't think that counts for much when you move forwards. We respect them highly."

On the prospect of pitting his wits against Yorkshire team-mate Joe Root as the opposition skipper, Williamson said: "From what I've seen from afar, he looks to have done a good job so far.

"He's also a world-class batsman who has been scoring runs, as he always does. It will be cool to catch up with him.

"But there's a few Yorkie boys in and around their side at the moment, which is great."

Since the start of New Zealand's international summer, Williamson has scored 442 runs from 12 matches with one century and two fifties.

He said: "My form has been steady. We've been chopping and changing between formats and you're always wanting to score more and more runs.

"You have good and bad days and I've had a bit of both recently. But I've been working hard to move my game forwards."

* In association with Yorkshire CCC