Whitney's test debut came in unusual circumstances. Australia was touring England in 1981, and Whitney was in England playing Northern League Cricket for Fleetwood Cricket Club. Injuries to other bowlers in the Australian squad led to the Whitney playing the final two tests on the tour, only because he was the best available replacement in England at the time.
He later played 10 more tests between 1987 and 1992, with his best performance being 11 wickets in a match against India in 1991–92. He also played 38 One Day Internationals, and was Australia's most economical bowler in the 1992 World Cup.
In 1987, batting at number 11, he survived 18 deliveries and held off Richard Hadlee to help secure a draw for Australia against New Zealand.
On 8 March 2009, Whitney was inducted as a life member by the South Sydney Rabbitohs for his contribution in being a director on the Football Club Board in the critical period during the club’s battle for reinstatement to the competition between 1999 and 2001. He also played a decisive role in attracting fellow Life Member Kerry Stokes to the club as a major sponsor upon its readmission to the competition in 2002, a coup that ensured the club’s ability to make its triumphant return to the NRL competition.
Since retiring from cricket, he has worked in the television media. Since 1994, Whitney has been the host of Sydney Weekender.
Nationally, he was the host of Who Dares Wins (made in Australia, the show has been seen in America on cable's Game Show Network) from 1996 until 1998, and was also popular in India on AXN network alongside Tania Zaetta. Also in 1996, he was a referee on the Australian version of TV game show Gladiators and continues to host a variety of travel programs.
He is also the director of a computer graphics company and spokesperson for the Road Transport Forum's "Today's Truckies Giving 100%" campaign.
Whitney is also part of the Indian Cricket League commentary team.
Whitney wrote a book of memoirs of his tales from the game days and his travels up until 1995.
For the last few years, Whitney has been touring with his cover group,The Mike Whitney Band, which mainly does gigs around Sydney, but also play in RSL clubs and pubs throughout Australia.
The band also does charity work, playing music to raise money for the people of Australia who are in need.
Whitney plays the tambourine and does lead vocals for the band.