Second Innings

Players on their careers and hobbies outside cricket

Mike Whitney

Host with the most

From fine leg to the studio: Mike Whitney made the journey almost as soon as he hung up his boots

Nagraj Gollapudi

Text size: A | A
Mike Whitney portrait, February 1989
Whitney flashes his best made-for-TV smile © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Mike Whitney
Teams: Australia

In 1994 I retired from first-class cricket and started a promotions and marketing company with a few mates of mine. I had been speaking at a lot of cricket functions and luncheons. A fellow who heard me rang me saying he was putting together a show for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation called Innovations and Inventions and he would like me to host it as the guy he had originally lined up had reported sick. I turned him down, but an hour later he dropped in at my office. So I spoke to my partners and they asked me to go ahead.

It aired on Channel 2 and I really enjoyed it. On the back of that I was offered a job on Channel 9 in the commentary team. I said no. I had been playing cricket for 15 years, so I thought I needed a break.

Just then, out of the blue, a friend of mine, Chris Chapman, who was running the Seven Network asked if I wanted to do sport for Channel 7. I said no, and he asked me exactly what I wanted to do. I picked up a bowler hat from a coat rack in his room and danced around his room wearing it, singing a random tune. I told him I wanted to do entertainment.

He was sceptical at first, but he said they were about to start a show called Sydney Weekender, which would inform the viewer where he could go and what he could do in the state of New South Wales. I started the show on January 1, 1995 and 15 years down the track I have done in excess of 650 episodes, travelling the length and breadth of my state.

Not long after that, the idea of Who Dares Wins came up, and I also started working as a referee on another show, called Gladiators. So I was filming three shows all together. I worked on Gladiators for a year and spent three years doing Who Dares Wins, and I'm still going strong hosting Sydney Weekender.

For the last 30 years my whole life has been a performance. Cricket, television, after-dinner speaking, and playing in the Mike Whitney Band in Sydney have kept me busy. I think performing in front of the crowd at fine leg during my cricketing days was a precursor to me going into television.

As a performer I definitely am interested in knowing what the public feels about my show. But before that, I'm my own critic. I derive satisfaction by being critical of myself on the show. I sit down and watch my shows and check if I asked the right questions, if it was properly shot, if we could have improved the lights and such stuff. If a show is really beautifully made and put together, I feel satisfied. One way of knowing that is when people come up to me on the street and say, "Whits, we actually went to that place you mentioned on the Sydney Weekender. Thanks. It was fantastic."

The most difficult part of my job is that television makes you something you are not. I'm a normal person with the same habits and needs as anyone else. People forget that, and sometimes they expect to know every single thing about someone who is famous.

Still, there are some compliments that keep you going and motivate you. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard once said to me, "I just want to tell you that my wife and I watch your show when we are available and we love it." I was absolutely thrilled.

As told to Nagraj Gollapudi

Tell us what you think. Send us your feedback

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email this page to a friend Email Feedback Feedback Print Print
More in Second Innings
  • Make a splash
    Before he took up cricket as a career, Jehan Mubarak swam and played water polo
  • Pig hooey
    Got a gun? Want to hunt beasts? This New Zealand batsman could give you some tips on how to
  • Teach what you play
    It isn't easy to juggle two careers. But there are rewards, even if your students aren't impressed with your dancing style
  • My word
    Pouring outside? Stuck on an endless flight? If you're Jackers, you flip the newspaper open to the crossword page
  • The long arm
    Spinner turned legal eagle
RSS FeedAll
  • How to wind up cricket's purists
    The Long Handle: Just ask the ECB's new helmsman
  • The Sri Lankan party at the MCG
    Fan Following: The Dilshan-Sangakkara show, Rangana Herath's athleticism, the papare bands and the obstacle-course race during the mid-innings lit up the Bangladesh-Sri Lanka game at the MCG
  • Backing Green at the Gabba
    Fan Following: The match between Ireland and the UAE was the first final-over thriller of the World Cup and it was littered with great moments like the bail fail and the antics of Larry the Leprechaun
  • Don't support your national team
    The Long Handle: It will only cause your blood pressure to rise
  • 'Your captain's Irish'
    Fan Following: It might have been a bit of a no-contest but the fun fans and excellent weather made up for it
  • NZ's Rottweiler bite
    Simon Barnes: Their hyper-aggressive ways have got them success in the World Cup so far. But is the method as sustainable as it is eye-catching?
  • Soumya Sarkar's shot in the dark
    Christian Ryan: The long-lasting memory of a young batsman we have never seen before is of that one brilliant shot announcing his arrival
  • The vices and virtues of Misbah
    Ahmer Naqvi: The debate about whether Misbah-ul-Haq is holding Pakistan back or holding them together is obscuring the team's real problems
  • 'The best game of bad cricket'
    Two Men Out: Jarrod Kimber and Andy Zaltzman on the madness at Eden Park, and the ICC celebrating UAE's pasting
  • White Nights, grey skies, and a Gayle shower
    Firdose Moonda returns to familiar surroundings and learns that you need to pack mittens, even for the NZ summer
  • ESPN
  • ESPNF1
  • Scrum
  • Soccernet