ESPN today announced the lead commentators for its coverage of the 2010 World Cup. The lead commentators will be Martin Tyler, Ian Darke, Derek Rae and Adrian Healey.

In all, ESPN will employ four teams to cover all 64 tournament games live from South Africa between June 11 and July 11, 2010.

The inclusion of Martin Tyler was announced late last year. And the placement of Derek Rae and Adrian Healey will come as no surprise since both of them have been integral to ESPN’s coverage of soccer over the past several years. Ian Darke is the surprise. The commentator, who has commentated Premier League games for years, is a worthy signing and will definitely elevate the quality of ESPN’s coverage.

As a side note, Darke was hired to commentate on World Cup games during the 1994 World Cup and did an admirable job then during his short stint in America.

ESPN’s broadcast assignments for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – including the analyst pairings – will be announced later this spring.

The only concern I have right now is who is going to commentate the games featuring the United States. I presumed it would have been JP Dellacamera as the lead commentator, but he has instead been selected as the lead commentator for the World Cup games that will be broadcast on ESPN Radio alongside Tommy Smyth. It’s going to sound strange to have a British commentator being the lead on games featuring the United States.

“The group of commentators we have assembled represents some of the finest English-language voices for televised soccer anywhere in the world,” said Jed Drake, ESPN’s executive producer, 2010 FIFA World Cup.  “They present the sport at its highest level and their first-hand knowledge of the players who will compete in the FIFA World Cup will greatly inform fans and enhance how we present this global event in the United States.”